Is Amazon working on a Kindle tablet?

I’ll be amazed if it isn’t. Andy Ihnatko:

A Kindle Tablet would have an instant clarity with consumers that no other tablet can communicate … not even the iPad.

There’s a real perceptual problem with tablets. Just what the hell are they, anyway? And how is the average consumer — someone who’s by no means intimidated by new technology, but who’s in no way mesmerized by the shining shininess of its shine, either — meant to know why they would want to have a tablet and their notebook?

Even the iPad suffers from this problem. It’s a brand-new category of computing and the differences are subtle if you’ve never spent time using one. You’ll get a clear picture if you sit next to me on a four-hour flight and ask me an innocent question about this computer on my tray table, but trust me: this solution comes with its own unique set of downsides.

But what’s a Kindle?

“It’s a book reader.” Sold!

The word “Kindle” is as intimately associated with that product category as “iPod” is with music players. Amazon wouldn’t need to describe their new tablet as “magical” when they already have “Kindle.” That one word would get millions of iPad fence-sitters inside the tent. Why should Amazon even care if these folks don’t discover the web browser and the email client after a few days? Or if it’s a couple of weeks before they install their first app?

The current Kindle is a wonderful device, and getting new stuff for it is a joy: find, click, read. I think Ihnatko’s right when he says the iPad is as much about its ecosystem as the device itself, and I think he’s right when he says Amazon has its own content ecosystem.

This is all complete speculation, of course, but I’ve been spending a lot of time covering tablets recently and nothing really jumps out in a “never mind the iPad 2; look at this” kind of way. A Kindle tablet would.