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Amazon could have Kindle Fire 9-inch by midyear

updated 06:10 am EST, Fri February 10, 2012

Amazon Kindle Fire 9-inch anticipated for midyear

Amazon's rumored Kindle Fire 9-inch model could be shipping by as soon as the middle of this year, according to All Things D. Pacific Crest Analyst Chad Bartley has raised his estimates on Kindle Fire shipments from 12.7 million to just under 15 million units based on this line of thought. In addition to a new 9-inch Kindle Fire, Bartley's research also suggests that the first refresh of the original Kindle Fire will also arrive at the same time.

'We are raising our 2012 sales forecasts to 14.9 million from 12.7 million,' writes Bartley. 'But we believe there is an upward bias, particularly from the new 7- and 9-inch models, which we expect to launch in mid-2012.'

At the same time as increasing his estimates on Kindle Fire shipments for 2012, Bartley also revised downwards his estimates for shipments of Kindle e-readers from 28.6 million to 24 million. While it has been speculated as to how much of an impact the Kindle Fire may be having on iPad sales, it is conceivable that Amazon may also be cannibalizing its sales of its popular e-ink-based devices as users opt for the more fully featured Kindle Fire experience.

A 9-inch Kindle Fire will be a more close competitor to Apple's iPad. While Amazon is said to have shipped over 6 million Kindle Fire 7-inch models, it has done so taking a deliberate up-front loss of up to $50 per unit it sells in order to drive greater content sales from its online store. Whether it is yet to recoup on those costs, or is likely to do, so remains confidential to Amazon. While it is likely that it will attempt a similar strategy for its 9-inch iPad competitor, it may either come at a cost to the company or at a cost to users, as inevitably some features will be cut. For example, Kindle Fire users have to get by with just 8GB of on-board storage.

Apple is not expected to stand still with its new iPad range expected, now rumored to launch in early March. Most pundits are expecting a new high-end iPad 3 to feature a high-resolution display, better cameras and a faster processor to be unveiled at that time. While Amazon may not be able to Apple for features at the high end, a 9-inch Kindle Fire could pose a threat at the lower end of the market. Apple has not been one to venture into the lower end of the market, however it is also rumored that the company may slot a revised iPad 2S at a cost point that may still appeal to would-be 9-inch Kindle Fire buyers if it eventuates.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Jul 2006


    More sizes, more confusion

    Amazon and Apple seem to be pursuing radically different digital publishing agendas.

    Apple's focus is on appearance and to get good design you need human designers rather than the mindless auto-flow of text and images. To make that practical, they seem to be sticking with one iPad screen size and, if rumors are true, improving their screens in multiples of the dpi. Their weakness is that their new format won't even display on iPhones and they've yet to have a reader for Macs. An ebook or emagazine is to be restricted to the iPad. The result with be great looking books and textbooks, but they'll only be useful on iPads. You won't be able to read all or many of them on anything else.

    On the other hand, Amazon has released hardware and apps with almost every screen size imaginable. Their ePaper Kindles vary in size. The windows in their Windows/OS X apps adjust in size. This article suggests the same will be true of the Fire--we'll have at least two screen sizes. That's fine for the text in thrillers and romance novels. But it doesn't work well with anything that has more complex formatting, much less books graphics. Images are inline and will pop up in all sorts of unappealing ways. You'll be able to read an Amazon book on almost anything, but it'll be primitive and look ugly.

    The result is likely to be an ebook market that remains very fragmented, and one that forces authors like me to create two very different versions, one for Apple and one for Amazon. That's irritating when the print book market understands PDFs well.

    Apple has helped authors a bit with iBooks Author, a WYSIWYG editor, but in the 1.0 version it's severely lacking. It was developed with the advice of major textbook publishers and that makes it more than a little weird for any other purpose. Clumsy, chapter-by-chapter importation fits the workflow of major publishers. It doesn't fit the workflow of almost anyone else. And all the supplied templates are layouts for textbooks and of little value for anything else. The typical book doesn't have sections in chapters and it certainly doesn't have a contents at the start of each chapter. I've edited some 30 books and only one fits with their all-alike templates.

    On the other hand, Amazon seems to think that publishing is for geeks or at least authors well enough off to hire geeks for their layout. Their book creation software is literally a command-line compiler and when what it creates looks bad, writers are forced to edit HTML-like code. Amazon needs something like iBooks Author in versions customized for PCs and Macs. No clumsy, ugly Java app.

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