SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Amazon unveiled four new Kindle Fire tablet computers Thursday, including ones with larger color screens, as the online retailer steps up competition with Apple ahead of the holiday shopping season.
Amazon.com Inc. showed off the larger Kindle Fire with a high-definition display amid expectations that Apple Inc. will introduce a smaller iPad as early as next week.
The larger Fires will have screens that measure 8.9 inches diagonally, compared with 9.7 inches for the iPad. The original Fire had 7-inch screens. The basic version of the larger Fire will sell for $299, or $100 less than the cheapest iPad.
Seven out of every 10 tablets sold in the second quarter were iPads, according to IHS iSuppli. Tablets using Google's Android operating system have not been able to carve out a significant stake. Amazon is trying to change that with the new Fires, which run a modified version of Android.
CEO Jeff Bezos said in an interview backstage that Amazon won't lose money on the devices even if customers don't use them to buy digital content from its online store.
“We want people to buy content from the device, sure,” he said. “We're fine if they don't.”
The basic, 7-inch Fire model will cost $159, down from $199 for the original model, which sold out last month. Amazon says it is 40 percent faster, comes with twice the memory and has a longer battery life than the old version. It will start shipping next Friday.
“I want one,” BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said. “It's a great price, and it's certainly not something that's going to be making money for them initially. It's great for consumers. How great a business strategy (it is) for Amazon remains to be seen.”
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