Mobile

Amazon to debut two 7-inch Kindle Fire models next week (and one is ad-supported)

Photo of the Kindle Fire from Amazon

If you had your heart set on a larger version of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, you’ll have to sit tight for a bit long. Instead of taking on the iPad directly with a 10-inch tablet, Amazon is currently planning to announce two 7-inch Kindle Fire models at its media event next week, CNet reports.

One of the models is a higher-end Kindle Fire sporting faster hardware and more connectivity, while the other is a slight refresh of the existing Kindle Fire. But the latter model may be interesting in its own right, as Amazon is reportedly working on supporting it with ads, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon’s media event is currently scheduled for September 6, but the surprise was slightly blown yesterday when leaked pictures of one of the new Kindle Fire models hit the web. Apple is also expected to announce a smaller iPad in October — this will certainly be the holiday season of tiny tablets.

The higher-end Kindle Fire features a faster processor, a camera, an HDMI port, and other hardware upgrades, all of which will make it a strong competitor to Google’s Nexus 7. Considering that the Nexus 7 retails for $199 (and is my favorite Android device, bar none), I suspect Amazon is going to aim for the same pricing.

The lower-end model is “slightly upgraded” and features a newer interface, according to CNet, but its real strength could be pricing: It seems like a given that Amazon will price it lower than $199, so I wager it will end up costing around $150. But with ad support, which Amazon uses to knock off $30 to $50 off its current Kindle e-readers, the cheaper Kindle Fire could end up costing as little as $100.

This is all speculation, to be clear, but think of what Amazon could accomplish with a $100 tablet. Fewer Android manufacturers would be able to compete without losing money, and Apple certainly wouldn’t be able to compete. And even though the original Kindle Fire’s hardware wasn’t very good, a slight RAM upgrade and software improvements could still make it a steal at $100.

According to the WSJ, the low-end Kindle Fire’s ads would appear after you wake up the device, though it’s unclear if that means after you hit the power button or after you completely unlock it. Currently, the Kindle e-readers display ads while asleep and on the main library page.

I’m using a Kindle Touch with ads and haven’t been bothered by them one bit. For $100, I’m sure many consumers could feel the same about an ad-supported Kindle Fire.

Leaked Kindle Fire pic via The Verge; comparison image by Jolie O’Dell


VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Chime in, and we’ll share the data.