Amazon Planning Tablet Computer to Battle the iPad

Amazon is preparing its own consumer tablet for an October release, according to The Wall Street Journal. Reportedly, the online mega-merchant is going to introduce a 9-inch, Android-based tablet to go head to head with Apple’s iPad.

With different Android tablets hitting the shelves left and right, it’s interesting to see a company like Amazon enter the mix. Will Amazon’s tablet be the iPad killer?

That remains to be seen, as we don’t actually know that much at all about what Amazon has planned for its upcoming tablet.

“While Amazon has long offered digital content on its website, it has lacked much of the hardware to go with it. Now the Seattle company hopes customers will use its tablet to buy and rent that content, said people familiar with its thinking.

An Amazon spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment.”

Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader has been wildly successful, so the company does have a track record with successful hardware (even though the Kindle’s design and interface leaves something to be desired). Amazon definitely has the software ecosystem for a full-featured tablet, including books, music and movies.

The remaining three content kings in the tech space are Apple, Google and Amazon. Apple’s iPad has been a phenomenal success, with over 19.5 million units sold as of March. While Google doesn’t have its own name brand Android tablet per say, its OS is used by a multitude of Android tablet makers, like, Samsung, HP, Acer and HTC.

As far as Apple and Amazon are concerned, the two companies can hardly be seen as “close friends.” Apple recently sued Amazon over the use of the phrase “App Store.” Steve Jobs has actually compared Amazon’s e-book reader with the iPad by calling the iPad a “superior” device. A recent report also hints that Amazon could be taking a stab back at Apple by contracting the same manufacturer that makes the iPad, Foxconn, to produce its October tablet.

“Amazon and Apple are frenemies”—both friends and enemies—said Sarah Rotman Epps, a Forrester Research analyst. They “rely on each other as partners”—Amazon, for example, sells digital books via its Kindle app in Apple’s iTunes Store—but “at the same time, they aggressively compete for customers’ attention and dollars,” she said.

What little we do know about Amazon’s upcoming tablet is that it won’t have a camera. The device will interface with Amazon’s online content, including a close relationship with the company’s online retail store. Coincidentally, Amazon recently launched its own “App Store” for software downloads.

October’s device will be branded as an Amazon tablet, but it will not be designed by Amazon itself. Alongside this new tablet, Amazon is also expected to launch two new Kindle devices, one of which will have a touchscreen.

There hasn’t been one Android device yet that’s come close to the success of the iPad, so it will be interesting to see if Amazon has what it takes. Another rumor is that Apple will introduce the iPad HD this Fall with a faster processor and higher resolution display.

So, will Amazon’s tablet be the long-awaited iPad killer? Let us know your thoughts below.