Amazon rumor: 8.9-inch Kindle Fire due in 2012

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The rumors were true, check out our full review of the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 tablet. 

Amazon has both 8.9-inch and 10.1-inch versions of its Kindle Fire tablet in the works, according to a report from Taiwan-based DigiTimes. The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire will reportedly go on sale during the second quarter of 2012. The currently-available Kindle Fire has a 7-inch screen.

Rumors of the new Kindle Fire models come via an anonymous source, who has knowledge of the production plans of Foxconn Electronics, which also makes a majority of Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. This rumor follows talk last week that Amazon also has a smartphone in the pipeline, which is said to debut sometime next year, most likely in the fourth quarter.

If these rumors are true, they show that Amazon is speeding up its transformation from an online retail giant into a full-blown consumer technology hardware company. Of course, this is not an entirely new development. The company has been producing its Kindle e-readers for years. But the addition of two more tablets and a smartphone would greatly increase Amazon’s reach into markets currently dominated by other companies.

Unlike Apple, which aims to make high-end devices, Amazon is shooting straight toward the ground. The current Kindle Fire sells for $199 — less than what it costs Amazon to produce a single device — making it one of the least expensive Android tablets available. While this low price point is obviously attractive to customers, the quality of the Kindle Fire, and the user experience that goes with it, shows that you get what you pay for, i.e. nothing close to the polish of higher end devices.

It must be noted that Amazon’s strategy of making its own hardware appears to be simply a way to further expand its online retail business. That is to say, Amazon devices are especially good at one thing: getting users to buy more stuff from Amazon. That’s their true purpose, nothing more. Not that that’s a bad thing, per se. But it’s something users should be aware of before dropping dollars into a new device.

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