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Amazon Reportedly Aiming For the Low End With a Loss-Leader $50 Tablet 111

Amazon has been dogged with criticism for its high-end, somewhat oddball phone, but done rather better with its high-end Fire tablets, and has mostly defined the market for e-ink book-reading devices with its long-lived Kindle series. Now, according to a report in the WSJ echoed by Fortune (and by Ars Technica and many others), the company is said to be working on a tablet aimed at the low end of the market, with a 6-inch screen, a mono speaker, and a tiny pricetag -- which could be as low as $50. "At the bottom end of the range at least, the devices won’t be priced to make a profit," writes Fortune. "The dirt-cheap price tag is intended to maximise the reach of its e-book and Amazon Prime video streaming content."
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Amazon Reportedly Aiming For the Low End With a Loss-Leader $50 Tablet

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @08:48AM (#50478009)

    >> a mono speaker

    I just read that and thought, "tablets have stereo speakers"? Isn't that what headphones are for? Would having stereo speakers really make a difference on a 9-inch wide device?

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @08:58AM (#50478093)
    My wife loves the classics, pretty much all of which are in the public domain, and have been put into some kind of e-book format at Project Gutenberg. I read a lot of Baen books from their free e-book library that one can download in several formats and often come with the paper books on a disc in the back. If this thing will work for that then we'll probably get one. Otherwise, probably not.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @09:13AM (#50478223) Homepage Journal

      That's the danger for Amazon. People get them and use them for free stuff. Maybe install Cyanogen instead of the Amazon crapware.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My wife loves the classics, pretty much all of which are in the public domain, and have been put into some kind of e-book format at Project Gutenberg. I read a lot of Baen books from their free e-book library that one can download in several formats and often come with the paper books on a disc in the back. If this thing will work for that then we'll probably get one. Otherwise, probably not.

      The desktop versions of the Kindle reader allow the user to simply import a .Mobi file that they have on their computer. On all other Kindle reader apps, you email the .Mobi file to the special Amazon email address that is associated with your Kindle account and the file will be delivered to your device by Amazon.

      It certainly isn't perfect, but it's really fairly nice, especially for public domain books as well as the DRM-free books you buy from O'Reilly and Packt, etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I use Calibre to convert my free, non-Amazon ebooks to their MOBI format and read them on my Kindle. I have the Kindle Paperwhite and haven't bought a single book from Amazon. The Kindle reads PDF, too, but it's pretty shitty at it, sometimes refusing to render whole sections of the book, so I convert those with Calibre as well.

    • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) * <scott@alfter.us> on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @09:40AM (#50478423) Homepage Journal
      Use Calibre [calibre-ebook.com] to convert from .epub (or whatever) to .azw and upload to Amazon. That's what I did when I needed to keep bookmarks synced between iOS and Android devices (before Google Play Books came along), and it'd also work with Kindle devices.
    • It will almost certainly read those. A base model Kindle does, so I see little reason why this wouldn't.
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      It is running the Amazon flavor of Android so yes you can read PDFs on it so Project Gutenberg books will work with ease. Baen supports Kindle format so....

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Probably. The other Kindles will accept any MOBI file which Project Gutenberg uses (among many other formats). However, oftentimes you can get the classics through Amazon for free such as The Iliad and the Odyssey, Paradise Lost, The Art of War, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Moby Dick and (one my favorites) Heart of Darkness. So yeah, you can get the classics free from Project Gutenberg and go through the extra steps, but check the official Kindle store. Usually public domain works are alre

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        This is why:

        Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle [nytimes.com]

        Fool me once, shame on you...
    • every kindle has an email address you can email your book file to and have it download to your device. same with kindle apps
    • Project Gutenberg makes their books available in the .mobi format, which the Kindles reads natively (the .azw format is based on .mobi, which Amazon picked up when they bought Mobipocket many years ago.)

    • Many/most of the classics are actually available for free on Kindle. You should check out their selection... if you get the chance, report back if anything major is missing.

  • I guess that I could make sense for Amazon to undercut the price of their competitors for their tablet since they can configure Fire OS to only allow purchases from Amazon.

    Want an movie? Buy it and download it from Amazon! Want a book? Buy it and download it from Amazon! Want some music? You get the idea.

    Did we mention that you get a discount and some "free" downloads if you sign up for Prime? Come on, it's only $99 a year!

    I'm sure that they'll make it difficult as hell to sideload apps and download content

  • Of course depending on how hard it is to rip that screen out. 50 bucks for a high quality 6" screen is pretty ok, and maybe some of the other hardware can be used too. I'd have a few projects where I can use cheap screens, how many can I order at once?

  • They'll make it up on the back end by recording every micro-interaction you have on every site and document you browse, compiling them and developing a probably mostly derogatory profile of you then selling that profile to your potential employers, insurance providers, political enemies, buisness competitors... you know anyone with a wallet . In the TOS you signed, these entities are referred to as "partners".

  • The only reason I'd see in buying a loss leading tablet is if I could hack it into something more useful. I certainly wouldn't be interested in a device which is locked into Amazon's substandard OS.
    • The only reason I'd see in buying a loss leading tablet is if I could hack it into something more useful.

      um, what? do you know what a loss leader is? it's a product that's sold below it's market value. why wouldn't you want that?

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        Because it's running a substandard fork of Android that is tied to Amazon's services. If it were hackable it might have some value to me at that price. If it's not it has no value at all.
  • by hajo ( 74449 ) on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @09:45AM (#50478467) Homepage

    Seriously, you know people are going to be all over this and root with some version of some alternate OS. Either android or one of the tablet Linuxes.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      One would hope

    • I may buy one to replace my Playbook - which I still use to watch movies... but I'm going to wait until somebody else has documented the rooting procedure and made the necessary tools available.

    • you can already buy sub-$50 tablets, and they already run Android.
      http://www.walmart.com/ip/RCA-... [walmart.com]

      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        I can't speak to the particular one that you linked to, but as of about a year ago, almost all of the sub-$100 tables were crap. Inferior displays, slow, buggy software, little updates if you got anything to begin with. While you still get what you pay for, at least with Amazon behind it you'll likely get at least some support and a functional device (as long as you don't mind being confined to the Amazon ecosystem).

  • by tedgyz ( 515156 ) on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @09:45AM (#50478471) Homepage

    No worries. They'll make it up in volume.

    • I think that the plan is to make up the loss on content delivery. If they lock down the tablet enough, they can make it so the average person needs to go to Amazon to buy/rent any apps or media that you want to use.

      • by tedgyz ( 515156 )

        I should have included sarcasm tags. Amazon is using the Gillette business model, which has been perfected by printer makers.

    • um, if you are selling something below cost, selling more of it means a greater loss (say it fast).

  • by Katatsumuri ( 1137173 ) on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @09:48AM (#50478491)
    I think some no-name Android tablets are already available at about $50 price, but this one should set the standard in value per dollar and push other major vendors to shift their prices down. This may also affect laptop and smartphone prices a little.
    • Personally I can't believe that smartphone prices are as high as they are. iPhones and high end Samsung devices are going for $700 or more. That a lot of money to spend on a basic computer for your pocket. I get a lot of value out of my phone, but I still am very happy with my $250 phone. I really don't see why some people think they need to spend so much to get a decent phone. There's a lot of cheaper phones on the market, and it doesn't seem to be doing much to stop people from buying iPhones or Samsung

      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        The answer has been the phone subsidies in the US, giving the carriers a powerful marketing point ("look at these deep discounts"). With those going away, I'd expect the market pricing in general to correct in the near to medium term future.

        I had this exact same argument many times that a tablet and phone are very similar and there's no good justification for the price difference

      • http://apple.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org]

        Apple tells the FBI to pound sand; Google logs every keystroke with the default keyboard. Privacy costs something - you can't have your stuff subsidized by content partners, who want to make up their subsidies later.
    • So are some name brands. I bought an HP G2 for 60 bucks that has served me well, and still does.
  • Sure a $50 tablet is nice but I really would like to see an inexpensive 11x8.5 e-ink kindle for that price. I read a lot of larger books with images that would be better on a larger reader.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can. You simply have to buy pre-owned devices that people dump because the form-factor is a pain for most. I'm not sure what "larger books" actually means. Page counts don't matter, so I'm assuming you've a stash of PDF docs, the one format that's utterly useless on e-readers because it's designed for specific page layouts, seeing as it's what it was designed to do.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        large as in large format books that have lots of diagrams. Even when formatted correctly for an ereader the screens tend to be just too small.

  • I told them how to do this years ago. Include the fire phone as part of prime.
  • Let the race to the bottom begin! Lets see Samsung make a dime now.

    Apple execs must be laughing their heads off.

  • A new textbook goes for 50$... so if one of these is lost or stolen the impact to school or students to pay fine are the same.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      $50? last time I bought textbooks it was $150 a pop and the science one was $250. Where are you getting super discounted textbooks at $50?

    • You are 20 years out of date. Unless you are talking about a paperback textbook. Hardcovers usually are $80.00 Minimum, they usually are around $100-$120 range.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

    RCA already wins this with a $39.00 tablet in most walmarts. $50 is overpriced for the junk level stuff.

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