You may want to bookmark this as a potential stocking stuffer: This holiday season, Amazon is supposedly releasing a $50 tablet for U.S. consumers, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new, as-of-yet untitled 6-inch device is designed to target what the WSJ calls “cost-conscious” customers, in hopes of increasing its tablet sales. Amazon’s budget tablet won’t have phone capabilities, and will be the cheapest option among several new tablets the company plans to release.
The upcoming release signals an interesting change of strategy at Amazon. The company’s much-vaunted Fire phone turned out to be a commercial flop; it was an underwhelming product in an overcrowded market that didn’t fill any pressing customer needs and provided no compelling reason for users to buy it. Earlier this year, Amazon’s Lab126, which handles much of the company’s consumer electronics research and development, saw prominent departures and leadership changes. Dozens of layoffs reportedly took place at Lab126 last month, with products such as a smart stylus and a mega-size tablet reportedly shelved.
Cheap Android-based tablets are already sold by Amazon and several big-box retailers; they are usually made with cheap parts and have limited features. That said, those tablets are within reach of the tens of millions of American households in which spending $400 or more on an iPad is not feasible. It remains to be seen if a $50 tablet will be a slam dunk for Amazon–especially if it means compromising the device’s functionality.
[via Ars Technica]