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Amazon’s Tablet Launch: Can the Kindle Fire Burn Apple and Netflix?

Amazon is expected to unveil its latest entry into the tablet market Wednesday in New York

With tech watchers widely aniticipating that Amazon will unveil its much-ballyhooed tablet Wednesday at a media event in New York, questions abound.

Chief among them: Will the "Kindle Fire" become the first successful competitor to Apple's iPad? (Kudos to TechCrunch's MG Siegler, who broke the news of that uninspiring product name).

The full-color touch-screen tablet will use its customized version of Google's Android operating system, and Android is one of Apple's main rivals in the phone market.

But unlike in the mobile market, which has always been competitive, the tablet realm has been dominated by the iPad since its release. It has felled each new foe with ease.

Some think the Kindle Fire will be the biggest challenger to the iPad to date.

Others think it may play on a different field. Because it's expected to have a 7-inch screen — much smaller than the iPad's 10-inch display. That would represent the continued fragmentation of the tablet market.

There are also those who think Amazon is not much of a threat at all — that it is following too late, that it can't compete with Apple's user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing design. Still, few seem to think this will be a flop on the scale of some of the other recent paper tigers.

Various leaks surrounding the Kindle Fire may provide some further guidance as to its  chances of dethroning Apple.

In terms of cost, most reports suggest it will be south of $300  — and certainly far cheapr than the $499 iPad.

Amazon seems to be pursuing the same strategy as it has with its Kindle reader, which it has priced low to lure more customers. Then they spend more money buying products from Amazon, which suits CEO Jeff Bezos just fine.

Speaking of books, how much will this resemble the Kindle? Or, to look at it another way, what kind of content can we expect?

When it comes to magazines, it should be loaded. AllThingsD Peter Kafka’s reported that all of the major magazine publishers save one have reached an agreement with Amazon. The exception? Time Inc.

That means no People, no Sports Illustrated and no Time, but plenty of other options. Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith are all aboard the Kindle Fire express.

Kafka said that the publishers will even surrender roughly 30 percent of sales. That suggests Amazon is following in the footsteps of Apple, which alienated some content providers with its 70-30 split before most of them caved and ponied up.

When it comes to video, the picture is not as clear.

Some believe that consumers will be greeted with a free one-year subscription to streaming service Amazon Prime. That could be a game changer.

Given the streaming service’s recent pacts with Fox and CBS, its catalog is better than ever.

Offering the service for free when it typically costs $79 a year would certainly make consumers happy. It would also give the tablet something that the iPad does not have, and launch another howitzer in Netflix’s direction.

Of course, even if these various reports prove true, there are still more questions than answers. So, wait a few hours, and see how much of this looks foolish when Amazon makes its official announcement.