Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 9:38 am.

5 questions about the Amazon tablet

Amazon plans to release an Android tablet by October, the WSJ’s Stu Woo and Yukari Iwatani Kane report. This is an expected move: In March, I made the case for Amazon becoming a big, important tablet player because of its rich content ecosystem and its strength in e-commerce.

In the meantime, some questions:

1) How much will the Amazon tablet cost? Amazon has a big opportunity here to undercut Apple in price with a cheaper device, which could be part of the answer to the “why would I ever buy this instead of an iPad?” question. The WSJ says the Amazon tablet won’t have a camera, for instance.

2) How closely is Amazon playing along with Google? Will this be a Google-sanctioned Android Honeycomb tablet with lots of Google services built-in? Or has Amazon taken Android and run wild with it? Will the Amazon app store be the only way to install apps? Or will it also ship with the standard Android Market?

3) Has Amazon finally figured out software and user interface design? The Kindle software is notoriously awkward. Design and user friendliness are Apple’s strengths, of course. Has Amazon upgraded in the design department? Or is this a plain, utilitarian device?

4) Who’s going to sell it? Amazon, obviously. But will it also go on sale at all the retail stores that have started to sell the Kindle, like Staples, Target, and Best Buy? Will Amazon work with a carrier on a 3G or 4G model? Will that carrier (AT&T?) help distribute it?

5) What’s Amazon planning to do with ads, special offers, and sponsorships on the device? The ad-supported Kindles have been a hit, outselling their more expensive, no-ad counterparts. This could be an opportunity to further lower the price. Anything special in store for Amazon Prime members besides free video content?