Parneros said the online retailer will introduce five or six new tablet SKUs, or stock-keeping units, including those for a 10-inch tablet model. That's not necessarily the same as five or six new tablets because each version of a device gets its own SKU. The 16GB iPhone 4s, for instance, has a different SKU than the 32GB iPhone 4s.
As Amazon's line of E Ink Kindles has proved, hardware is a good vehicle for selling content. A hit tablet could help Amazon gain market share in electronically delivered music and video in the same way its Kindles have helped establish the company as a leading distributor of ebooks.
That's why moving further into the hardware business makes sense for Amazon. But can Amazon, which released its first Kindle just five years ago, continue to compete with veterans like Apple and Samsung on their turf? So far no company has been able to shake the iPad's dominance over the market, but the hotter race for tablet makers is the No. 2 spot, and as of May the Kindle Fire had snagged more than half of the Android market.
Rumors have predicted Amazon's next hardware release will embody everything from a thinner Kindle Fire 2 to a smartphone that competes with Apple's iPhone. The company may divulge more during a second-quarter earnings call planned for Thursday.
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