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.