Remember when we were predicting a Kindle Fire launch with multiple tablet sizes to choose from? Well, better late than never. Chad Bartley, a Senior Research Analyst over at Pacific Crest, has predicted that we will be seeing a 9” Kindle Fire before the end of 2012, possibly as early as this summer. Along with this, an update to the already incredibly popular 7” model is expected. While previous estimates for upcoming Kindle tablet sales had been falling in light of a rumored iPad 3 launch that may include a 7” iPad meant to compete directly with Amazon, the same analyst has upgraded his estimates to account for anticipated demand.
We first heard rumors of an 8.9” Kindle tablet on the way in 2012 via a Digitimes report back in November that indicated a May launch was planned. While Digitimes is often less than perfectly reliable, they have managed to come up with some good information before on many occasions. In this case, they also reported that the choice of screen size was meant to simultaneously take advantage of pushes by LG and Samsung to promote the smaller screen size and to avoid competing directly with more established tablets like Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.
What this will mean to Kindle fans is hard to say at this stage. The immediate concern for owners of the original Kindle Fire will be continuing support. As many owners of the 1st Generation Kindle can attest, Amazon has a tendency to quickly move forward without worrying about ongoing backward compatibility for their newest efforts. At the same time, however, there has obviously been an increased awareness of the importance of consistent branding. While the second generation of Kindle eReader was a fairly noticeable break from the original, subsequent offerings have all remained fairly obviously related. Add to that the fact that the Kindle Fire is already capable of running more recent versions of Android (as demonstrated by recent videos involving ICS installs) which would be the most obvious thing for the company to change on the software side of things, and there is reason to believe that there will be at least a few years of supported life for the current Kindle Fire.
More interesting will be seeing how they handle the upgrade. Will the new model or models bow to customer demand for a camera, for example? There have also been indications for some time that NVidea is interested in getting involved with Amazon’s tablet efforts, which could mean a jump into the Tegra 2 or even Tegra 3 for the larger new Kindle Fire. Either of these would make sense given the emphasis on video and app use that Amazon has made apparent.
Unlike previous rumors, this one is adding up from a number of different sources and seems to be confirmed by the most recent Kindle ad uploaded to Youtube. In this, the iPad’s flaws as a reading device are still emphasized in a familiar message, but they also make a dig at the high price tag relative to the $200 Kindle Fire and imply that there is little the iPad can do that the Kindle line can’t accomplish collectively for less money. To many, this seems to be setting the stage for more direct Kindle vs iPad conflict.