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Linux E-Readers are evolving into Android-tablets


I have no doubt that Linux-based tablets will eventually be winners. I’ve been unimpressed though at how slowly the Linux tablet OEMs have been about getting their products to market. Those that have made it tp store shelves, like the Augen GenTouch78, haven’t been much good. Things are about to change. The forthcoming Nook Color and the rumored Amazon Kindle Tablet will bring good Linux-powered tablets to users this year after all.

I knew that dedicated e-readers would die off. What I didn’t see happening was that the e-reader vendors would also see that happening and start transforming their Android Linux-powered e-reader devices into tablets.

Sources at Amazon tell me that the company will indeed produce a mass-market Android tablet. I can’t tell you its size, pricing, when it’s expected to ship, or anything else of substance. The one thing I do know is that, like the Kindle, it will run Linux with a Java-based interface. In short, this new tablet Kindle, let’s call it "KinTablet," will run Android.

Amazon developers are already working on an app store for this new device. Based on the wording of the developer agreement, I suspect Amazon might even launch the KinTablet in time for the 2010 holiday season.

We already know that Barnes & Noble is releasing their Nook take on a tablet, the Nook Color, on Nov. 19. Anybody want to bet me that Amazon will announce their next step Kindle on the same day or the day before?

Will these hurt iPad sales? I doubt it. What I think will happen is that these newly evolved e-reader/tablets, along with the other Linux tablets, will take over the lower price points. We already know that, despite the iPad’s wildly successful sales, both the Kindle and Nook have continued to sell extremely well. I see no reason to think that these e-reader/tablets won’t continue to sell extremely well by adding more features and staying in about their current price range.

So, it appears to me, that by a round-about path, good, mainstream Linux-based tablets will arrive in time for this holiday season after all. Hurray!

A version of this story first appeared in ComputerWorld.

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