Two tech giants are preparing to launch new tablets, according to reports in the press. But while Amazon is thinking small for its next tablet, Apple is thinking big… very big.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon may soon offer a 6 inch Amazon Fire tablet with a starting price as low as $50, which would make it cheaper than the company’s least expensive eReader and half the price of the lowest-cost Fire tablet to date.

Meanwhile 9to5Mac reports Apple is expected to officially launch the iPad Pro on Wednesday. It’s said to be a tablet with a 12.9 inch display, premium specs, and a prices that could go as high as $1000.

Amazon Fire HD 6 (first generation)
Amazon Fire HD 6 (first generation)

While neither company has confirmed these reports yet, they both seem entirely plausible: Amazon tends to offer low-cost hardware in an effort to expand its user base and gain more revenue from sales of digital books, music, movies, apps, games, and other content. The company already offers tablets for as little as $99, but a model with a lower price tag could appeal to folks who might not otherwise buy a tablet, creating new potential customers for digital content.

Of course, that only works if the user experience is good enough for people to justify spending the money on a tablet. There are already competing tablets that sell for as little as $50, but they tend not to be very good.

Amazon’s $99 Fire tablet, on the other hand, gets generally positive reviews for its speed, display, build quality, and other features. The only ding against the tablet is that it runs Amazon’s Fire OS which is a custom version of Android that lacks Google services including the Google Play Store. As Amazon works to get more and more developers to distribute their apps through its own app store, this might not be as big a problem as it once was… although it’s still a factor that limits the appeal of a Fire tablet to some degree.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s likely that Amazon would keep the price down on the new $50 model by leaving out some features available on higher-priced models… such as stereo speakers. But the current $99 Fire tablet actually has only a mono speaker, so it’ll be interesting to see what other compromises Amazon makes to cut the price in half.

Apple, on the other hand, has always played in the premium range. When the company introduced its first iPad a number of years ago, the $499 price tag seemed like a bargain from a company that sells desktops notebooks, and phones that typically cost much more.

These days you can pick up some iPads for as little as $299. That still makes Apple’s tablets seem rather expensive when compared with Android, or even some Windows tablets. But it’s not a lot of money to spend for folks looking for a high quality device that fits into Apple’s ecosystem of smartphones, notebooks, TV boxes, and other products.

But what about folks that are willing to spend even more money on a tablet like a Microsoft Surface Pro, in order to get a device that offers a more PC-like experience? That’s where the iPad Pro may come in.

The tablets are expected to run iOS 9.1, which is the same operating system that runs on iPhones and smaller iPads. That means you won’t be able to run desktop-style OS X apps on the 12.9 inch tablet. But you will be able to run two apps side-by-side, connect a Bluetooth keyboard for a laptop-like typing experience, and 64GB to 128GB of storage.

According to 9to5Mac, the tablet will have four speakers, a new A9X processor, and optional accessories including a Force Touch capable stylus for writing or drawing.

With prices for an iPad Pro + keyboard + stylus expected to be around $1000 or more, it’ll be interesting to see how many people chose a big, expensive iPad instead of a small notebook like the latest MacBook or MacBook Air models. While the inability to run OS X apps might be a turnoff for some, Apple currently has no plans to offer a touchscreen laptop… so if you want  touchscreen device, it seems like you’re going to have to stick with iOS for now. Or Android, Windows, Chrome OS, or some Linux-based operating systems, I suppose.

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20 replies on “Reports: Amazon prepping a $50 tablet, Apple to launch a pricey iPad Pro”

  1. Put an SDCard slot on that Amazon fifty-bucker & I might actually give it a spin. (Nah – just dreamin’.)

  2. Keyboard and stylus lol. So much for the idea that a tablet is meant to be keyboard free, and styluses should never be used. Will this still need a mobile “app” to view a website?

    What’s the CPU going to be like? However fast it might be by ARM standards, it’s got a long way to catch up to Surface Pro (or any Intel core based tablet) speeds. Still, I’m sure some hipster mugs will buy it, just as they paid three times the price for an ipad mini, with worse resolution and performance then a budget supermarket tablet.

    Talking of which, Amazon could do well as long as the specs are good enough. A lot of people want cheap tablets, but I think would prefer buying something “known” than some imported noname brand. Tesco did well in the UK with the Hudl for this reason.

  3. The iPad Pro is probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard of. I can’t imagine anyone would have a real need for a product like that.

    The only people it will appeal to, are the people who think that Apple products make them look like creative-type artists.

    iOS is not functional enough to provide any real use for a product like that.

    1. I agree about the limitations of iOS. No argument there at all. But those limitations can also be a benefit from the stand point of simplicity for someone who is not really computer-literate.

      The need for a larger screen iPad is real. For sure creative use, but some people just want a bigger iPad.

      1. The limitations do not make it easier – the being easier for computer illiterate people is a myth.

      2. You’re completely right about it making the iPad easier. Unfortunately those limitations detract from its usefulness.

        Although I would never buy an Apple product, I always have a little respect for them. I always recommend iPads and iPhones for people who don’t know what they are doing.

        Similarly, I never judge someone for owning an iPad. It is the right product for a very large amount of people. A $1000 iPad Pro, however, has no real use-cases. The limitations of iOS will always make it less useful than a $500 laptop.

        Because it will likely have a very high resolution screen, it will definitely be good for showing off pictures (i don’t know about paying $1000 to look at pictures….). I would also say it would be great for editing photos, but Adobe Lightroom for iOS is a joke.

    2. I find it difficult to draw a conclusion as to whether it is a good or bad idea until I see what (as yet mythical) iPad Pro actually is.

      1. I don’t need to see more. I know that iOS is not functional enough to make me want to spend more than $500 on one (I actually wouldn’t spend $200 on one).
        iOS needs a few things to make them functional to pros
        – Navigable file system
        – Ability to side-load applications
        – Ability to navigate network directories
        – Full size USB

        You could not convince me edit photos, or do any kind of work on a device without these key features.

  4. “iPad Pro”? Lol. There is nothing Pro to me, with such a castrated OS as iOS.

  5. 6″ really isn’t an attractive format, hopefully it’s at least square and not rectangular.

  6. I bought an HD 6 and literally would not pay $50 for it again. Gave it away and bought an iPad mini

  7. Amazon’s mistake with the FirePhone was targeting the high end of the smartphone market. The direction with the Kindle Fire 6 makes a lot more sense for them (make a tablet literally an impulse purchase for everyone at $50). A FirePhone 2 that costs $150 off contract (and mimics the Moto G 2015 edition or something from Xiaomi) would make a lot more sense for Amazon — which is trying to create an ecosystem.

    1. I wish they’d have gone for a lower end market like a 5.5-6″ in backlit e-ink paperwhite Kindle phone maybe have a 4g GSM model running a barebones android rom for $50… LTE for $75.. maybe less with amazon offers..something like that would not only make for a perfect backup phone, but many would probably wind up using it more since the battery would last like a week.. and they would be in a unique position for e-books when people literally have an e-reader in their pocket wherever they go and they could afford to sell hardware at a break-even price

      1. Well, of course you would, but given that you’re asking for something like a 60% price reduction over existing models (which by all accounts are selling well at their existing prices), that’s extremely unrealistic.

        1. well it doesn’t have to be regular e-ink with phone functionality and backlit would be fine maybe 4″..
          this is the kinda of thing I wished the Fire phone would have been…

  8. I paid more for my black and white kindle ereader than I would for that tablet…

    I was suppose to get a rebate from staples but I never did.

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