Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) is expected to announce a long-rumored tablet at a media event in New York on Wednesday, setting up a showdown with Apple's (NAS: AAPL) dominant iPad just ahead of the holiday shopping season.
Amazon sent out invitations to a press conference that starts at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but declined to offer any more details. However, analysts predict that Amazon will use the event to unveil its tablet product, predicted to be a color version of its popular Kindle ereader that runs on Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android platform.
Details about the as-yet-unnamed Amazon tablet remain scarce, including whether it will offer cellular connectivity. However, a consensus among analysts and bloggers is that it will have a smaller screen than the iPad -- either 7 or 9 inches -- though a second tablet with a larger screen is expected next year. However, Amazon's content strategy and ecosystem for the tablet will be a key area of focus, since that is where it will compete most directly with Apple. Some analysts think Amazon's cloud services could give it a leg up against Apple and others in the tablet market.
Indeed, Amazon appears to be beefing up its content offering ahead of the release of the device; the company over the weekend announced a deal to stream Fox Broadcasting TV shows including The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Arrested Development and The Wonder Years.
Analysts also expect the Amazon tablet to sell for around $250, half the price of the cheapest iPad 2 with Wi-Fi. "Knowing Amazon, it is likely to be a very aggressive price," BCG analyst Colin Gillis told Reuters.
Expectations are high for Amazon, which some analyst think could succeed in the tablet market where others, including Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) , Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) , have failed to gain substantial market traction.
"Even though Amazon taking on Apple is a bit like David taking on Goliath (compare the market cap, profits, and cash position of the two companies), Amazon's willingness to sell hardware at a loss combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure, and commerce assets makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market," Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a recent blog post. "If Amazon launches a tablet at a sub-$300 price point -- assuming it has enough supply to meet demand -- we see Amazon selling 3-5 million tablets in Q4 alone."
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