Quanta has reportedly received orders to build a tablet for Amazon for delivery the second half of this year, with production expectations of up to 800,000 units per month. DigiTimes, which covers the Asian device and component markets, shares the news today, and while it doesn’t shed any light on the hardware details of Amazon’s potential tablet, this development solidifies thoughts that Amazon isn’t going to let the growing tablet market pass by. Given Amazon’s core competencies of cloud, usability and data synchronization, one can imagine what such a tablet will look like.
Unless Amazon has secretly designed a superior mobile operating system, it’s a given that any new Amazon tablet will run on Google’s Android operating system. The company has already launched its own app store for Android apps, providing a free app daily and an assortment of curated, high-quality titles. And as I’ve already seen with the Barnes & Noble Nook Color, some of Android’s user interface flaws can be covered up with a smart, custom interface. Amazon may use the stock Android look-and-feel for a tablet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the device had a cleaner software design, which would make it easier to use while also differentiating it from the slew of other Android tablets.
Apps and software design aren’t all that Amazon can offer to the tablet market, however. The company recently upgraded its MP3 software for Android devices to support music streaming over data connections. That means consumers who buy music from Amazon can listen to their songs anywhere using the Cloud Player service. That app integrates nicely with the Cloud Storage service Amazon launched in tandem with its Cloud Player streaming service: Music files can be stored on Amazon’s servers for a low cost. But music is only part of the solution because photos, videos, documents and more can be stored with Amazon.
The company could keep the price of its tablet lower than competitors by reducing the amount of flash memory available and bundling 20 GB of Cloud Storage with the purchase of a slate. Smart software could automatically sync photos or documents from the tablet to the cloud and back again as needed, similar to the rumored intelligent music synchronization that HP will bring to webOS tablets. Amazon’s strength is in its cloud and sync services — think “WhisperSync” on the Kindle, for example — so any Amazon tablet is likely to leverage those.
Perhaps only Quanta knows what Amazon’s new tablet will physically look like, but if you connect the dots, you can see how such a device might be used and how it might stand out from the crowd. In the second half of 2011, I expect to see a thin Amazon slate, perhaps in a highly portable 7-inch size, that runs an elegant interface atop Android and relies heavily on the cloud.