A stock image from E Ink showing its color display technology

There have been tons of reports lately about Amazon.com planning to take on Apple’s iPad with its own color-screen, Android-based tablet — including a particularly juicy one today out of Taiwan indicating that Amazon’s new device could arrive for this year’s holiday season. It would be the latest battleground in the growing war between Apple and Amazon.

Amazon isn’t commenting, so as with most of these things, figuring out what it’s doing is like putting together a puzzle. And in hindsight, one of the key pieces seems to have been placed on the table nearly a year ago. That’s when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, speaking to Charlie Rose, had this to say on the possibility of a color-screen Kindle e-reader.

JEFF BEZOS: So I will give you an example. We can put a regular color display on this. It would be very easy to do. In fact, it would be cheaper than this fancy electronic paper display, but you wouldn’t want to read a couple hundred pages on it.

CHARLIE ROSE: You want to read black and white.

JEFF BEZOS: You’d want to read this electronic paper display. You don’t want that flashlight shining in your eyes while you are trying to read that’s from that — that emissive display causes so much eyestrain, because it is like reading while somebody’s shining light in your eyes.

Note in particular that Bezos didn’t agree with Rose’s statement limiting the possibilities to black and white. In fact, E Ink, which supplies the electronic paper display for the Kindle, has been working for some time on a color version of its technology. Which is why it’s interesting that today’s report from DigiTimes indicates that E Ink is among the partners working with Amazon on the new tablet.

Another interesting nugget: The device will reportedly use Fringe Field Switching (FFS) technology from E Ink subsidiary Hydis, allowing low-power color screens to be read in direct sunlight. Amazon has openly poked fun at the iPad’s screen glare in videos and ads including this one from last fall.

It’s not clear whether Amazon’s new device will be more along the lines of a color Kindle with extra capabilities, or an Android tablet well-suited to reading. Maybe that distinction isn’t important.

What is clear is that Jeff Bezos thinks differently than Steve Jobs, and they’re about to go head-to-head.

Todd Bishop of GeekWire can be followed on Facebook and Twitter. No flashlights required.

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  • Guest

    Go Amazon!

  • Guest

    who the heck takes their kindle to the pool? one wrong splash and it’s done for

  • http://eyejot.com/users/davidg davidgeller

    My wife and I both experienced the iPad glare issue that the Amazon ad describes as the reason to use their e-Ink device. Still, neither one of us would trade our iPads back for Kindles. For one, we rarely find ourself in tropical sunny locations (unfortunately). Two, the app ecosystem that exists for the iPad, today, is remarkable. And, our favorite readers are all supported – Kindle, Nook, iBooks. So, why switch?

    Amazon should be careful about trying to pull off too much. iPad was an almost decade in the making device. And, Apple is a robust software and hardware manufacturer. Amazon has no software “stack” to secure an updated Kindle against.

    It takes more than fancy hardware to create a successful consumer device – which is clearly evidenced by the current crop of woefully inadequate and close-to-useless Android tablets, as well as the new RIM Playbook.

    Amazon just doesn’t seem like the company with the right DNA to pull off creating an iPad competitor. They clearly have distribution expertise but probably not material supply chain expertise. And, their recent (very terrible) AWS/cloud failure suggests they’re lacking key discipline/structure and process in important areas. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’ll produce a killer device to compete against iPad. But, there are no public signs to suggest they’re capable of doing so.

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