Amazon.com is keeping busy as the online retailer is reportedly prepping to release four new tablets and a smartphone. Amazon is working with manufacturer Foxconn to create the smartphone, according to a Bloomberg.com report that cited two informed sources. Last November, an analyst at Citigroup said that an Amazon smartphone was in the works.
If the reports are true, Amazon would compete against a flooded market that saw nearly 400 million smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012, according to IDC. The top selling phones in the period were Android-based smartphones from Samsung and Apple's iPhone.
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Four new Amazon Kindle Fire tablets are also set to go into production this year, according to an NPD DisplaySearch analyst who cites unnamed components suppliers. The tech rumor mill has suggested that Amazon will unveil a second-generation Kindle Fire in July, and now the NPD analyst Richard Shim says three 7-inch Kindle Fire 2 models and one 8.9-inch Kindle Fire 2 model are going into production in August.
Currently, Amazon offers the original 7-inch Kindle Fire for $199. Shim didn't any provide pricing plans for the coming upgrades in his report. The sub-$200 price-point is considered ideal by many manufacturers, and Google's first tablet, the Nexus 7, is set to go on sale in mid-July for $199. Meanwhile, rumors are persistent that Apple's component suppliers are set to start producing an iPad tablet that's smaller than the $499, 9.7-inch iPad that held a dominant 60 percent share of the global tablet market in September.
Shin told Cnet that Amazon is planning to start production of three 7-inch Kindle Fire 2 tablets with different features. One would have a 1,024 x 600 display with no camera, the second would have a 1,280 x 800 display with a camera, and the third would have a 1280 x 800 display with a camera and a 4G radio atop Wi-Fi. The 8.9-inch model of the Kindle Fire 2 would have a 1,920 x 1,200 display, Shim said.
The screen in the latest iPad has a resolution of 264 pixels per inch (PPI), which is ahead of the 216 PPI in the Nexus 7 and the planned next-generation Kindle Fires. The original Kindle Fire's PPI was estimated at 170.
Amazon could not be reached to comment on the tablet and smartphone reports. It has declined to comment on such reports in the past.
NPD this week said it expects that that tablet shipments will outpace laptops in 2016. Laptop shipments will go from 208 million in 2012 to 393 million by 2017, while tablet shipments will grow from 80 million in 2012 to 254 million by 2017, the research firm said.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, send email to email@example.com or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed.
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