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Will Amazon Announce a $299 Color, Touch Kindle Tablet in Late July? “Stay Tuned”

Lately we’ve tried to stay out of the raw speculation game, saving our predictions for matters where we have great sources or great information, but for the past year it has been clear to us that Amazon would eventually launch a color touch tablet version of the Kindle. Of course calling it a “version of the Kindle” is kind of silly, because it is equally clear that an Android-based color touch tablet will never replace the Kindle. It’s far more likely that such a new device would merely “allow” the purchase and reading of Kindle reading content

Last Fall we said the Kindle tablet would probably come in March or April, and all we got in March and April was the $114 Kindeal, so Nostradamus can sleep soundly knowing that his job is not in danger. I do think that Amazon would like to have introduced a K-Tab in March or April, but they also know the importance of getting it right the first time around in the snarky world of tech product launches, so I’m not going to speculate about whether might see such a launch in June or July or any other specific month. Would I be shocked if we don’t see it well in advance of this year’s holiday season? Yes.

Why? Well, there have been plenty of “tea leaves” lately involving the roll-out of tablet-compatible services like the Amazon Cloud Drive and enhancements to Amazon Instant Video, supplier manufacturing orders, new and enhanced Kindle content meant for a tablet, and Amazon hiring for specific job descriptions that strongly suggest a tablet launch. And Amazon has certainly learned from its colossally successful Kindle 3 launch that a July-August timeframe for announcement and delivery can work very, very well.

Will the K-Tab be this big? Stay tuned!

But yesterday Jeff Bezos appeared at the headquarters of Consumer Reports and very carefully cut two little eyeholes in the bag to allow the long-suffering cat to look out at the great wide world.

When will the cat be liberated? He didn’t say. But Jeff Bezos is well-trained by his public relations and legal staff in how to say “I can’t answer that” or, even better, to respond to an unwanted and untimely question by emitting that lovely laugh of his just before changing the subject. Here’s the lead paragraph from CR Electronics Editor Paul Reynolds’ tantalizing report:

Asked today about the possibility of Amazon launching a multipurpose tablet device, the company’s president and CEO Jeff Bezos said to “stay tuned” on the company’s plans. In an interview at Consumer Reports’ offices, Bezos also signaled that any such device, should it come, is more likely to supplement than to supplant the Kindle, which he calls Amazon’s “purpose-built e-reading device.”

Every time anyone from Amazon has ever said “stay tuned” to me, it has been proven to mean that the item in question is coming in months, not years.

So, I’m not going to speculate that a $299 K-Tab — Android compatible with color and touch, manufactured by an Amazon partner like Samsung — will be announced the last week of July. And we’re not going to make a free K-Tab the give-away prize in our next Kindle Nation sweepstakes.

But stay tuned.

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