SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Amazon.com Inc. refreshed its Kindle line of gadgets on Thursday. It updated its Kindle Fire tablet computer and announced new stand-alone e-reader models.
The Fire will be an effort to take a larger share of a tablet computer market dominated by Apple's iPad. It could help Amazon boost sales of digital goods such as e-books and movies.
The event came a day after Nokia Corp. and Google Inc.'s Motorola Mobility division announced five new smartphones between them. The two from Nokia will be the company's first to run the next version of Windows.
Consumer electronics makers are trying to generate interest in their products now, before Apple announces a new iPhone and possibly a mini iPad next week.
The Amazon event took place at a former airplane hangar in Santa Monica, Calif., with CEO Jeff Bezos presiding.
Here's a running account of the event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are PDT.
Just before the event ended, Amazon unveiled another Kindle Fire model, one with the ability to connect to the 4G cellular networks that phone companies are building. It will cost $499 and come with 32 gigabytes of memory and an 8.9-inch screen. A data plan will cost $50 a year.
Amazon is revealing prices for the HD models. A 7-inch model will sell for $199 and ship next Friday. An 8.9-inch model will go for $299 and start shipping Nov. 20.
Amazon has pursued a strategy of selling lower-priced tablets at thin, if any, profit margins in order to boost sales of digital items from its online store. It's akin practically giving away shavers to sell razor blades later.
Amazon unveiled a slew of other features.
There's "Immersion Reading," where Kindle books can be synchronized with Audible audiobooks. It lets you read and listen at the same time.
There's also "X-Ray for Movies" on the Kindle Fire HD, where you can tap the screen at any time to find out who the actor is. That uses the IMDb database service owned by Amazon.
"Whispersync for Games," meanwhile, will let you pick up where you left off when playing games.
The Fire will also come with parental controls, adjustable by content. A kid may have free reign on books but have limits on games, TV and movies, for instance. Different time limits can be set for different kids.
There's also a front-facing camera for the first time, and it can be used with a custom app for the video chat service Skype. The iPad has two cameras, which is useful for videoconferencing.
Amazon is coming out with a high-end version of the Kindle Fire. Called Kindle Fire HD, it will have two Wi-Fi channels for faster transfers. That will be crucial for high-definition movies and other large files, Bezos said.
The HD model will also have more storage, starting at 16 gigabytes, compared with 6 GB for the old Fire. It wasn't immediately clear what the updated basic model will come with. The iPad also starts at 16 GB.