Amazon has launched a range of new tablets in its Kindle line, including a high-end LTE-powered flagship device to compete with Apple’s market-leading iPad.
The retail giant used a high-profile event yesterday to unveil the Kindle Fire HD tablet family, alongside an updated version of the existing Kindle Fire tablet – which it claims has captured 22 percent of US tablet sales in just nine months. It also launched a new version of the Kindle e-reader called the Paperwhite, but rumours of an Amazon smartphone proved unfounded.
The top-of-the-range Kindle Fire HD sports an 8.9-inch screen, 1920×1200 HD display, 32GB of storage and LTE connectivity. It will cost US$499 in the US, while a data plan will cost US$49.99 per year for 250MB per month. The Wi-Fi only model costs US$299. Both will begin shipping in the US from November.
A 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HD will cost US$199, while the existing Fire tablet has been reduced to US$159. These two devices will be available from next week.
“We’re taking on the most popular price point for a tablet, US$499, but doubling the storage and incredibly, adding ultra-fast 4G LTE wireless,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “Kindle Fire HD is not only the most-advanced hardware, it’s also a service. “
Amazon claims to have the “world’s best content ecosystem”—comprising over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, apps, games, books, audiobooks and magazines. Several new content services have been launched to support the new devices.
According to recent figures from IDC, the iPad accounted for accounted for 68 percent of global tablet shipments in the second quarter, while Amazon captured 5 percent. But competition in the market is hotting up with major new products such as Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface entering the fray.