Is Amazon working on a Kindle Tablet?
Last night word broke that Amazon had signed a patent deal with Microsoft that gives each company access to the other’s patents. Although Microsoft is mum on exactly what patents the cross-licensing deal applies for, some are speculating it’s for Linux and other services for use in a new Kindle product.
The deal could be as simple as Amazon wishing to avoid a lawsuit by Microsoft for their current Kindle OS which is based on Linux kernal 2.6.22. However it could also represent an intention to dive further into a Linux-based operating system for a new product; possibly even a Kindle tablet. At least that’s what MKM Partners analyst Tim Boyd proposes (as posted by Barron’s):
“The press release specifically mentioned that the agreement covers the Kindle – this means the entire Kindle franchise will now be able to leverage MSFT’s IP portfolio. We can draw only one conclusion from this: AMZN is going to build a ‘KindlePad.’ While the consensus view is that AMZN has already been working on a touch-screen, color Kindle with a higher level of Web browsing functionality, this announcement suggests that AMZN may go even farther and build a device that approaches the tablet PC level.”
We’ve speculated for some time that Amazon will be introducing a new version of the Kindle before the end of this year. This new Kindle should take advantage of the new color screen technologies, specifically Qualcomm’s Mirasol display, and solidify the evolution of the eReader — from a gray, newsprint-like reader to a full-colored version that still retains its reflective display, low energy consumption and the ability to run a 30fps plus frame rate. Truth be told it’s the only real way for Amazon to retain their crown as we expect traditional EPD-display eReaders to lose their control of the eBook reading market by year’s end.
Apple took a giant swing at the Kindle earlier when they announced their iPad and competing iBooks eBook buying format, but failed to deliver a killing blow. The relative laziness of the iPad design and concept has left Amazon enough time to mount a counter-offensive and this Kindle tablet could be just that — taking the fight to the competitor and working on a similar product that could surpass the feature-poor iPad. Still, that line of thinking is a long shot. The evolution of the Kindle to a color-screened eReader device is a no-brainer, but Bezos and Co. may be hesitant to throw market prominence to the wind and start from scratch in a new and crowded gadget market. It would be much smarter to throw their lot in with the first real iPad contender that comes this way; perhaps even the Notion Ink Adam.