At long last, it seems we might get to see what Amazon has really accomplished in their efforts to update the Kindle Fire to be competitive with other big name tablets like the Nexus 7. Signs point to a hardware upgrade coming in the next few days, which would be good news given that the previously speculated initial release date was two weeks ago now. This week may just give us a good idea of exactly how much of a chance the Kindle Fire has of retaining its now-dominant position in the Android tablet market.
It seems safe to say that Amazon intends to at least announce their new products in a batch. This would include a new Kindle Fire, possibly a larger scale variation on the Kindle Fire, and at least one new Kindle eReader. This is based on a combination of intersecting timetables and the previous Kindle eReader release that brought us the Kindle Touch. Since Amazon is basically required to put out a front-lit Kindle at this point if they want to stay competitive in terms of hardware, it would make little sense to miss an opportunity to join that side of the business with the more versatile tablet side.
To make room for the expected new release, Amazon has quietly discontinued a large part of their eReader selection. The Kindle Keyboard WiFi is simply gone. The Kindle Touch 3G appears to be gone as well. Even the WiFi version of the Kindle Touch is currently listed as having delays from 3-5 days for the Special Offers option and no stock at all for the ad-free model. We also noticed that earlier this week Amazon used the Kindle DX as one of their Daily Deals selections, discounting it by $110 for a day. The basic $79 Kindle is still available, but it would be surprising if anything else is shipping out right now at all, regardless of rough delivery estimates made by the Amazon.com site.
The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, is still listed as in stock and shipping immediately. Whether this is true or not is open to speculation, but it would fit with some of the rumors we have reported here previously. Amazon may be planning to continue offering the existing Kindle Fire at a discounted rate for a while in order to increase the rate at which users attach themselves to the Amazon digital services ecosystem.
A lot has been done lately to prepare for this release. Amazon has updated their music, video, and Android gaming capabilities significantly since a year ago when the first Kindle Fire was announced. While nobody really expects that the Kindle Fire 2, or whatever Amazon decides it will be called in the end, will be able to claim superiority over the Nexus 7 on paper, that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily have trouble competing. A decent facelift, improved software, and more integrated services than ever before are a guarantee. Somehow it doesn’t seem like they’re likely to stop at that, though.