updated 07:10 pm EDT, Fri July 6, 2012
4G Amazon tablet said to accompany larger version
Amazon may soon refreshing its tablet lineup later this year with not one but at least three new models of the Kindle Fire. An analyst from market research company NPD tells CNet that he believes the online retailer will be rolling out new versions of its tablet with different screen resolution, capability, and connectivity options. The models are expected to start production late this summer.
Supply chain sources, according to NPD, indicate that Amazon is working on three 7-inch versions of the Kindle Fire: one with a 1024x600 display and no camera, another with a 1280x800 display and a camera, and a third with a 1280x800 display, camera, and 4G connection. Those three models would begin production between August and September of this year.
A fourth model, with an 8.9-inch, 1920x800 display, is also said to be in the offing.
NPD's sources apparently gave no information on pricing or processors. Some suspect that the devices will come with Texas Instruments OMAP processors or Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 chip.
Should Amazon actually produce devices with these specifications, they would one-up Google's recently-announced Nexus 7 tablet, which sports a comparable display but doesn't feature any connectivity options beyond Wi-Fi. The new Kindle Fires might also see competition from the 7.85-inch iPad Apple is said to be working on.
The new models would represent a larger step by Amazon into the consumer electronics sector. The first Kindle Fire debuted to solid holiday sales last year, only to fall off dramatically in the following quarter. Since then, the company has been heavily rumored to be working on a successor to its tablet, which runs a forked version of Google's Android operating system.
Expanding its own line of hardware offerings would give Amazon a wider array of devices with which to funnel customers into its retail portal. The company is also said to be working on its own smartphone, which would presumably run the same operating system. Any new devices would likely come with an OS upgrade, allowing them to take advantage of their reported increased capabilities. There have been indications that Amazon is looking to beef up the capabilities of the OS underlying the Kindle Fire: the company is said to have purchased mapping service UpNext recently, which would give Amazon an in-house mapping division that could be expanded to rival similar offerings from Google and Apple.