The Kindle Fire, the only other really successful tablet in the market, is getting a revamp according to reports. And, while Amazon is really only interested in selling its own content rather than challenging Apple in a technology war, the next Kindle tablet could have a bit more kick.
Just the Medicine
The Kindle Fire is a device that does its job pretty well, but there is a world of users who would rather it did a little, and in some cases a lot, more. As far as the maker is concerned, its role is as a sales and landing platform for Amazon digital content, and while it supports third-party services calls continue for it to be a bit more open.
It is also still only available in the U.S., missing out on massive sales in Europe and beyond. The $199 tablet has sold consistently well and at half the price of the new iPad will continue to gain sales. But, while a majority of Amazon shoppers don't care about tech-specs, it needs a refresh to tick the boxes that the more savvy consumers will be looking for when it comes to resolution, speed, size. And with the old iPad 2 now getting closer in price, potential buyers could be starting to look at Apple's product more keenly.
For those reasons, its not a surprise that Taiwanese firm Catcher has outed itself as a producer for a new Kindle Fire tablet chassis. But that leaves the question what exactly will the other folks in the supply chain be adding to it.
Inside the Box
Since the launch of the original 7" Kindle Fire, there has been a suspicion that Amazon would produce a larger version to compete, in size at least, with Apple. A larger Kindle Fire would be a neat option, but existing users would also be looking to software upgrades to fix things like the not-so-hot Silk browser and smooth some crimps out of the UI.
Any new Kindle Fire will need to offer better features at a really competitive price
Users with lots of content will be looking for a version with more than the default 8GB of memory or at least an SD card slot so they can store a decent amount of video (do tablet makers actually know how much a season of Bones takes up?). Sure, cloud storage is there, but there's nothing like having the files on the machine.
Finally, there's the choice of a 3G or 4G radio to improve connectivity and make the tablet more portable. Having seen all the fuss about 4G and battery life, it is probably something that Amazon could do without (never mind the contract hassles) but 4G might be seen as an essential feature within the next year or two.
A new Kindle Fire probably won't hit until later in the year, making it another big seller over Christmas. If Amazon's partners can build enough for an international launch, it may well start to reach iPad sales levels and the content sales will again make up for the low selling price.
But just what can they cram in before pushing the price up above the $200 mark, and perhaps $299 for a larger-screened version. What you like to see in the Kindle Fire? Bigger, lighter, faster, smaller, better at games, a nicer screen, let us know.