Amazon may be set to announce a tablet computer next week, after inviting the media to a press conference due to take place next Wednesday.

Amazon is to hold a press conference in New York next Wednesday, and although the company refuses to shed any light on what the event will be about, analysts are confident that the long-awaited tablet computer will be announced.

"Wednesday is tablet day", BGS partners analyst Colin Gillis told Reuters. Gilles went on to say that "knowing Amazon, it is likely to be a very aggressive price."

The tablet is expected to be a 7 inch (17.5 cm) device with a colour touchscreen and running the Android operating system; the biggest news would be the price, with rumours predicting that the tablet will costs $250 (£161), considerably cheaper than even the entry-level iPad.

Amazon kick-started the ebook reader market when it introduced the Kindle, and now on its 3rd generation, the reader - starting at £111 - has proved incredibly popular; many are expecting Amazon to do the same with the tablet market.

"It's a marketing tool to build a relationship with customers and sell them cloud [computing] services," said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research.

If Amazon were to sell multimedia content - films, TV shows and music, as well as books, - through an online store then the tablet will instantly have a large content base, possibly enough to rival Apple and its iPad.

Having already built a strong customer base with its Kindle store selling books, magazines and newspapers, it would be simple enough for Amazon to sell these products to tablets buyers as well as the current Kindle users.

In a note last month analyst Colin Sebastian from Robert Baird & Co said that an Amazon tablet would be a "game-changer". Sebastian forecasts that the device could sell three million units in its first year.

After the poor sales of Blackberry and Samsung tablets and the early demise of the HP Touchpad, the Amazon tablet will be entering a turbulent market dominated by Apple.