Amazon tablet mockup via BGR.

That question’s been on our minds ever since the rumor began swirling that the world’s largest online retailer was meticulously prepping a tablet of its own. It’s easy to dismiss Amazon’s efforts in light of Apple’s stellar iPad sales. After all, the tablet market is really an iPad market, right? Nonetheless, the Amazon tablet appears to be in the works, per multiple sources, some more credible than the others. The latest example: Amazon is currently testing a mobile-optimized version of its shopping web site with a small portion of users. Why bother now if not for own tablet?

The web site changes reportedly include tablet-friendly tweaks, such as bigger controls so you don’t have to sand your fingers down. Another tell-tale sign: The new site lends itself prominently to Amazon’s tablet-friendly services such as Instant Video, MP3 Store, Cloud Player, Kindle, Cloud Drive, AppStore for Android, Game and Software Downloads and Audiobooks. This feels like part of launch preparations, if you ask us.

Then there is the Amazon brand, which certainly gets a wider recognition than any other Android tablet brand out there. In fact, a Retrevo survey (charts below the fold) has more than 50 percent respondents favoring a tablet from Amazon versus any other Android brand. This, in and of itself, is remarkable as Amazon has yet to release an Android tablet. Then there is the Amazon price aggressiveness.

Amazon is a rare example of a company that demonstrated willingness to lose money on Kindle hardware in order to accelerate mass market adoption, later recouping losses from content sales. We’ve seen this strategy at work in the console world, but it’s a rarity in consumer electronics. So, if Amazon is willing to price its tablet competitively and can supply the market with enough units, they should be able to steal some thunder from iPad.

A recent survey from Nielsen revealed that a tablet from Amazon marrying e-reading features of the Kindle to the computing capabilities of tablets could appeal to wide demographics. Nielsen says women now amount to a whopping 61 percent of e-reader owners, up from 46 percent last year. As for tablet and smartphone adoption, women climbed only by four and three percentage points in the period, respectively. The numbers led Silicon Alley Insider to joke that “women are from Amazon, men are from Apple”.

Some analysts also see bright future ahead of Amazon’s slate. For example…

…Forrester’s Sarah Rotman Epps predicts bright future for the Amazon tablet, which in her own words will “be synonymous with ‘Android’ on tablets” a year from now (disclosure: Epps was wrong on predicting iPad numbers plummeting back in June). She wrote in a note to clients Monday that Amazon could sell five million tablet units in the fourth quarter, considerably more than the 3.27 million iPads Apple sold in its first quarter, adding:

Enter Amazon.com, whose tablet can compete on price, content, and commerce. If it’s launched at the right price with enough supply, we see Amazon’s tablet easily selling 3 million to 5 million units in Q4 alone, disrupting not only Apple’s product strategy but other tablet manufacturers’ as well.


Amazon is in the process of cleaning up its shopping site ahead of rumored tablet launch in October. Click for larger.

A New York Post report claims Amazon will bring its tablet to market for “hundreds less” compared to the entry-level $499 16GB WiFi iPad, which sounds a lot like that sweet price point of $299. Supply chain sources told trade publication DigiTimes that Amazon has begun lining up suppliers of parts ahead of manufacturing and a likely Fall launch.


Cross-posted on 9to5Google.com

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