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Thursday, May 12, 2011, 06:20 pm PT (09:20 pm ET)

Amazon boss says "stay tuned" for rumored tablet release

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in an interview this week to "stay tuned" on the company's plans for a possible tablet device that would likely supplement, rather than replace, the company's Kindle e-reader.

After Consumer Reports asked Bezos earlier this week about the possibility of a multipurpose tablet device from Amazon, the CEO cryptically answered "stay tuned," prompting further speculation that the company has an iPad challenger in the works. Such a device, however, would be sold alongside the successful Kindle e-reader.

“We will always be very mindful that we will want a dedicated reading device,” he said. “In terms of any other product introductions, I shouldn’t answer.”

In response to a separate question from "a visiting retail reporter" about the rumored Amazon tablet, Bezos said "I hate the term 'kill.' as in one device killing another in the marketplace."

During the interview, the CEO quashed rumors that a color-screen Amazon device using e-ink technology will arrive anytime soon. Color e-ink "is not ready for prime time…the colors are very pale,” he said, though he did add that “it continues to be improved.”

Earlier this month, rumors surrounding a full color LCD touchscreen tablet from Amazon made headlines. The online retailer has reportedly placed orders with Quanta Computer and is expected to begin shipping the device in the second half of 2011.

Developers began reporting in March that Amazon was courting them to port their apps from iOS to the Kindle platform, possibly providing further evidence that Kindle has a multipurpose device in the works.

Amazon recently dropped the price of the Kindle by $25 with a new model that features "special offers and sponsored screensavers."

Kindle with ads


Rival bookseller Barnes & Noble may also have a multipurpose tablet in the works. According to a recent SEC filing, the company plans to announce "a new eReader device" on May 24. Barnes & Noble has begun moving away from standalone e-readers toward multipurpose tablets in order to compete with the iPad.

Late last month, the company's Nook Color e-reader received an Android-based update intended to add functionality such as email, Adobe Flash support and games.