Tablets Coming from RIM, Sharp and…Amazon???

Posted by Zealot on Sep 28, 2010

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BlackBerry_PlayBook_email-420-90This is life around the luxurious Mobilitysite offices these days…another week, another metric tonnage of Tablet announcements. This week we have more concrete information on the offerings from two anticipated new Tablet vendors; Research in Motion and Sharp. However, as the market scrambles desperately for some kind, ANY kind of differentiator for all these vaporware Tablets, each has a few surprises and a certain air of mystery about them.

The third rumored entrant this week in the “Next Tablet to Be Humiliated by the iPad” sweepstakes however came utterly, totally out of left field. In a further show that Jeff Bezos just MIGHT be a little cheesed off that Apple came in and started horning in on Amazon’s ebook turf and just might be a little bit crazy (this whole Tablet thing is getting more and more like a Coppola film everyday…”Apple sent us an iPaq box with old videotapes in it…what does it mean?” “It‘s a Cupertino message, Sonny. It means the HP Slate sleeps with the Betamax Tapes.”),  Amazon appears to be opening their very own Android App Store….and just may be releasing their own Android tablet.

First the easy stuff. RIM finally announced their anticipated BlackBerry tablet…but forget about that whole BlackPad thing. For some strange reason they are calling their 7 inch Tablet the PlayBook. Why when they have openly stated that this device is aimed at being a Tablet for the Enterprise did they name it a PLAYbook, I have no idea. I would sort of dig the sound of the BlackBerry WorkBook, but then I am known to be strange. I am just glad they didn’t use the word Pad in the name.

The PlayBook  is due for release in early 2011 in the US and mid 2011 in Europe. It will be able to be tethered to a BlackBerry as well as use WiFi and possibly 3G/4G down the line. The specs are still pretty fragmentary, but here is what we know thus far….

  • 1GHz Dual Core ARM Cortex A9 CPU (no other specifics yet since they are keeping the GPU a secret…analysts are predicting the Tegra 3…continuing the recent trend of already hyping the next generation when this generation is not even properly available)
  • New QNX Operating System (similar in look and feel to BlackBerry 6, but reportedly much better…and it runs BlackBerry apps)
  • 1G RAM
  • 16G or 32G storage
  • 7 inch widescreen capacitive touchscreen (1024×600 resolution)
  • MicroUSB and MicroHDMI connectors

I must admit the PlayBook sounds very interesting and like a welcome change from the endless retellings of The iPad and the Seven Android Dwarves we have been coping with the last couple months. No word on price, but I would estimate anything from $400 to $800 in the US, likely less for current BlackBerry users.

Here is the video preview of the PlayBook…whatcha think?

206236-sharp_galapagos_2_180As for Sharp, the ebook readers they were supposedly preparing to produce a couple months ago have now morphed into two full-fledged Android tablets, called Galapagos (well THERE is a sexy name…not. Makes me think of massive, nearly extinct tortoises, slow and dying. Good marketing move there Sharp). They are still positioning the devices as mainly ereaders to avoid getting all up in Apple’s grill, and thus far they are initially only going to ship in Japan (though they are rumored to be talking to Verizon about a US release).  The Galapagos will run Android (no word on the version, through since it is likely to release at the end of 2010, 3.0 is possible) and will come in two flavors…a 5.5 inch “Mobile” version and a 10.8 inch “Home” version.

Sharp is calling their entire cloud-based media strategy “Galapagos”, likely hoping to inspire thoughts of evolution, not slow, relentless extinction. However, as they are still basing it around an online store that will provide books in an obscure, proprietary format which will feature, at most, 30,000 titles…my bets are still on the tortoise analogies. Only difference? This one will die FAST, not slow.

No word yet on price, though to make a dent in the market it had better be low…free might be good too.

Now..Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. All sorts of people have been reporting that Amazon may be announcing an Android App Store as early as this week. From Amazon’s point of view, this may be a way they want to challenge iTunes by repeating their ebook store’s success, but with video and music and intend to use Android as the vehicle. While it is another indication to me that the inmates are running the asylum at Google, I admit that for Amazon to challenge iTunes at all, it will need the help of an established infrastructure such as Android.

However, over at TechCrunch they have stated they have also gotten a reliable tip that Amazon will be releasing a direct rival to the hated iPad, an Android tablet to go with the store, and are speculating that it could be a replacement for the existing Kindle.

First of all I think there is no chance at all (repeat that…NO CHANCE) that Amazon will replace the Kindle with an Android Tablet. They have spent too much money and time trying to convince people that they don’t WANT a full tablet for doing things like reading books..and selling books is still Amazon’s bread and butter.

What I think is at least POSSIBLE (though still a stretch) is that Amazon is going to rebrand one of the vast array of cheap Chinese tablets that have yet to get to the US as a “Video Kindle” and position it as a player for videos and music you buy through Amazon. Perhaps use some of the same tricks that they do with ebooks…such as whispersync, which would allow you to put down your Video Kindle in the middle of a movie, turn on your TV/PC/whatever and start the same video just where you left off.

It is a stretch, but Amazon has got to be looking for ways they can further leverage the Kindle brand…and hell YES Jeff Bezos is crazy. Therefore, anything is possible.

Rashad Trabulsi | Penrith Farms | The Advocacy For Consumer Rights

Zealot (839 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook

By day a department manager and writer for a major network device night Zealot stalks the mean magnetic streets, striking fear into the hearts of bandwidth abusers and theme park mascots. Zealot has been involved with mobile devices for more than a decade now, starting off with dumb phones, moving to PDAs and then to smartphones, notebooks and netbooks with the odd PMP thrown in. Most of his mobile time currently is spent on a Treo Pro, Zune HD, Thinkpad T61, HP Mini 311, iPod Touch 3G, iPad 16G or a Hackintoshed Compaq Mini 704. He proudly groks the Geek community and considers himself a Neo Maxi Zune Dweebie (thanks Wil Wheaton!).



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