The Korea Herald


Amazon expected to unveil tablet at mystery event


Published : Sept. 27, 2011 - 11:42

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WASHINGTON, Sept 26, 2011 (AFP) -- With nearly 30 million iPads sold, Apple is the undisputed tablet computer champion.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, US computer giant Hewlett-Packard, South Korea's Samsung and scores of other companies with devices powered by Google's Android software have all taken swings at the iPad and missed.

A contender may finally be here.

Amazon, maker of the Kindle electronic book reader, is expected to unveil an Android-powered tablet at an event in New York this week according to numerous press reports.

The Seattle-based online retail giant is holding a press conference in the Big Apple on Wednesday but has enigmatically declined to say what it was about.

According to the technology blog TechCrunch, the Amazon device will be called the "Kindle Fire" and will feature a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) screen, smaller than the iPad's 9.7-inch (24.6-cm) display.

It will ship in the second week of November, TechCrunch said.

Technology analysts are predicting that an Amazon tablet could pose the most serious challenge yet to Apple's dominance of the fast-growing tablet market.

"More than any other recent tablet introduction, Amazon's entry is set to shake the still-solidifying market to its very core," independent technology analyst Carmi Levy told AFP.

"Unlike hardware manufacturers who lack the pockets and the resolve to slug it out with Apple in a protracted war over market share, Amazon has both the resources and the will to stay in the game as long as it needs to," he said.

Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, in a recent blog post, said Amazon taking on Apple is a "bit like David taking on Goliath."

But Rotman Epps said 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."

According to technology research firm Gartner, the iPad will account for

68.7 percent of the 69.7 million tablets sold this year and will remain the top-selling device over the next few years.

While Gartner said Android-powered tablets will see their market share rise from 14.2 percent last year to 19.9 percent this year, most of Apple's tablet rivals are struggling.

Samsung is mired in global legal battles with Apple over patent infringement claims, HP discontinued production of its TouchPad after just seven weeks and RIM shipped only 200,000 PlayBooks last quarter, when Apple sold 9.25 million iPads.

Levy and other analysts said they expect Amazon to significantly undercut Apple on price. Apple's cheapest iPad sells for $499 but Levy said an Amazon tablet could start at around $250.

"Since Amazon is in the business of moving content and not hardware, I expect its tablet to be very aggressively priced," he said. "An artificially low price point would also put pressure on Apple -- something no competitor has been able to do thus far."

Citi analyst Mark Mahaney said a recent survey indicates that tablet buyers are very price-conscious.

"Pricing remains a critical factor, and $200-$300 is an important range to draw new buyers into the tablet market," Mahaney said in a research note.

"Amazon faces a significantly large tablet opportunity given its history with being price competitive, ability to enjoy very low distribution costs (vs. other tablet brands), and its ability to integrate top consumer-preferred activities on tablets," the Citi analyst said.

Forrester is predicting that Amazon could sell 3-5 million tablets in the fourth quarter alone with a device priced under $300.

Like with the Kindle, Amazon would not be looking to make a profit on the hardware but from digital content such as books, music, movies and games and applications sold for the device.

"Over the past few years, Amazon's customers have gotten used to one-click purchases of books and other published content via the Kindle," Levy said.

"(Amazon's) goal is to drive as much business as possible to and through its online retail presence," he said. "Amazon doesn't need to maximize its profits on every tablet sold.

"It'll take thinner margins -- or even per-unit losses -- if that means getting as many Amazon tablets into consumers' hands before the all-important Christmas shopping season," the analyst said.


<한글 기사>

아이패드 대항마 아마존 '킨들 파이어'는 절반값?

온라인 유통업계의 강자인 아마존이 애플의 아이패드 아성에 도전하기 위해 시장에 내놓을 태블릿PC제품의 이름이 `킨들 파이어(Kin dle Fire)'로 정해졌다.

정보기술 웹사이트인 테크크런치는 26일(현지시간) 아마존이 e-북 리더기인 킨들의 성능을 개선한 `킨들 파이어'를 개발해 11월초부터 판매에 들어갈 것으로 보인다고 보도했다.

테크크런치의 이 보도는 아마존의 제프 베조스 최고경영자(CEO)가 기자회견을 통해 태블릿PC 신제품을 공개하기로 한 시점을 이틀 앞두고 나온 것이다.

아마존은 태블릿 신제품 판매에 관련해 공식적으로 확인한 것은 없지만 시장에서는 수개월 전부터 아마존이 애플의 아이패드에 맞설 가장 강력한 경쟁제품을 내놓 을 것이라는 소문이 확산되고 있다.

지금까지 삼성전자와 휴렛팩커드, RIM 등이 태블릿PC 시장에 뛰어들었으나 아이 패드에 필적할만한 판매실적을 올리는데 실패했다.

시장전문가들은 그러나 온라인 쇼핑과 e-북을 통해 충성도 높은 고객 기반을 갖 춘 아마존이 저가의 태블릿PC를 출시하면 단기간에 상당한 점유율을 올릴 수 있을 것으로 전망하고 있다.

아마존의 신제품은 10인치 스크린을 채용한 아이패드와 달리 7인치 스크린을 장착하고, 가격은 아이패드의 절반 수준인 250달러에 판매될 것으로 전문가들은 관측하고 있다.

아이패드의 올해 하반기 판매량은 1천만~1천200만대가 될 것으로 예상되는데, 아마존의 `킨들 파이어'는 4분기에만 300만~500만대가 팔릴 것으로 전문가들은 추정 했다.