Kindle Fire 2 and glowing Kindle Touch coming on September 6

Kindle Fire 2 and glowing Kindle Touch coming on September 6

Summary: Look out for Amazon announcing its new Kindle Fire 2 tablet at a press conference in Santa Monica, California, on 6 September. The launch could also feature a cheaper ad-supported Fire, and an illuminated version of the Kindle Touch.

TOPICS: Tablets, Amazon

Amazon is expected to announce the second version of its Kindle Fire tablet at a press conference in Santa Monica, California, on 6 September. The Fire may come in both 7in and — less likely — 10in versions, along with an improved Kindle Touch. One tablet will be supported by advertising to reduce the cost, according to an unconfirmed report in the Wall Street Journal.

While predictions are always risky, Amazon sent us the biggest possible hint yesterday (Thursday), with the announcement that the original Kindle Fire had sold out forever. Visit the page for the $199 Kindle Fire, for example, and there are no new ones for sale, only second-hand products. The $99 Kindle Touch is listed as "Currently unavailable".

There is no prospect of Amazon discontinuing these products, so there must be new versions ready to launch.

A few details of the Kindle Fire 2 (or Kindle Blaze, or whatever) have already appeared. The most significant is an increase in screen resolution from 1024 x 600 pixels to 1280 x 800. The larger format is already used by other tablets, including Google's similarly-priced Nexus 7.

Last month, DisplayMate president Raymond Soneira told the AllThingsD website that this represented "a 67 percent increase in total pixels, and it is visually significant. It gives the display a PPI (pixels per inch) of 216." This should improve the readability of text, and will also enable the Kindle Fire 2 to show HD (720p) videos.

For comparison, Apple's iPad had a lower resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels, which was doubled to 2048 x 1536 in the iPad 3. Apple also had to thicken the iPad 3 slightly to provide extra battery power to support the extra pixels, though the Kindle Fire 2 is unlikely to need this.


The Kindle Fire 2 is expected to be thinner and use more metal in its construction. It may also include a camera to support Skype, and a GPS chip to support location. According to a Reuters story published yesterday: " Inc's new Kindle Fire will have mapping services via a tie-up with Nokia Oyj … filling a gap in the tablet's capabilities while snubbing Google Inc's popular service."

The new Kindle Touch is expected to have an illuminated display. This looks like a natural response to Barnes & Noble's launch of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight.

The difficult question is whether a 10.1in tablet will appear at the same time. Taiwan-based Digitimes and the BGR website wrote about 10in tablets long before the original launch. Last June, BGR got quite specific about the two models, codenamed Coyote and Hollywood, but Hollywood has still not appeared. (See my post from 10 June 2011, Amazon tablet could add to market explosion)

It also remains to be seen whether Amazon will reduce the Fire's $199 price to compete with the Google Nexus 7 and the entry-level model of whatever 7in iPad Apple might launch. The $199 tag was considered aggressive at the time, and it is thought that both the original Fire and Google's Nexus 7 sell at close to break-even prices. After all, Apple charges $199 for its cheapest iPod Touch.

Both Google and Amazon are prepared to forego hardware profits to increase adoption, and take profits later from the sales of ebooks, movies, music, apps and, in Google's case, advertising.

When announcing that the Fire had sold out, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos trumpeted the success of "the best content ecosystem". The press release said:

Kindle Fire offers customers a vast selection of digital content — over 22 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, books, magazines and more — in one seamless, end-to-end experience, making it easy for customers to browse, discover and purchase. Since Kindle Fire launched last September, all of the top 10 products on Amazon — across all products — are digital products.

Whether this impressive ecosystem generates more cash per device than Google's hugely-profitable advertising is another matter.

In the end, I suspect the most likely result is that Amazon will launch two 7in Kindles, with the Kindle Fire 2 at $199 and an ad-supported Kindle at a lower price, possibly a penny less than $175.

Topics: Tablets, Amazon

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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  • Love 'em or hate 'em

    Apple finally dragged us into the modern mobile 'smart' device era. It's fantastic to finally see these devices come to market. Even the Samsung look-a-likes. :')
    • Or simply ignore them

      I'm still waiting for full 'phone functionality in an iPad sized device ... only then will I consider that we are at the beginning of a 'smart device' era. At the moment we just a have a profusion of partially functional toys, rather than full on unified productivity devices.
  • Mistake on the resolution

    You mentioned that the Google Nexus 7 has 67% more pixels than the Kindle Fire. Then you mention that the resolution of the new iPad is double the resolution of the iPad 2. In fact it is quadruple the resolution -- two times the resolution in each of two dimensions -- for 300% more pixels. I know this may seem like nitpicking, but it may help to give your readers a true sense of the visual upgrade represented by the Retina display.
    • From studies I've read

      true retina should be like 4 times what apple says retina is. Just sayin
      Sam Wagner
      • Let the clowns dance

        Yeah, and true Galaxy has over a billion stars more than Samsung's phone. Ivory soap isn't really made of ivory, either.
        Robert Hahn
        • Truth

          Excepting that Samsung isn't claiming that the galaxy tab is, in fact, a galaxy. Nor is proctor and gamble claiming ivory soap is actually made of ivory. Apple, however, is making such a claim.
          Jerred Vidal
          • The King of Beers

            Says you. But not Apple,
            Robert Hahn
  • No 10" tablet

    The biggest problem with bigger than 7" tablet is the lack of dedicated tablet apps for Android 3 or 4.

    I wonder if Amazon will upgrade the underlying Android OS to 3 or 4?
  • Only problem...

    If they don't have at least one camera, an MHL port, and an SD Card slot, the new fire will end up a forgotten entity.
    • Think Not Geek

      Be careful with the geekiness. The world is full of people who want to read books and watch movies without having to deal with a 'computer'. They don't want to hook up wires, and they don't want to guess where their new downloaded book went. For you, there's the Nexus. Amazon wants to sell to the book-and-movie people. If they get sucked into turning the Kindles into computers, their sales will go down, not up.
      Robert Hahn
      • Not at all

        People ask us what we recommend and they ask whatbthey should look out for. The Fire was nice but it had no real competition for all that it did at that price point.
      • Seriously?

        Not at all sure what you mean. I'm sure most people would like to connect to a big screen if possible, best if it was done wireless of course. Most people would also like to have an SD slot. I'd also agree that a camera would be a good addition.

        ... though in all honesty, as a Kindle owner, I'm not at all sure what the point of a Fire is. It's neither as Good as an iPad for video etc nor as good to read from as a Kindle. It's not a 'phone, so why would anyone buy one? The only people I know that have one also have iPads, iPhones and Kindles ... so is it more an obsessive collector thing? or a way of avoiding having 2 iPad style devices in a family???

        I know I'll never buy one whatever sockets it has.
  • Interesting !

    Already got a tablet so the "Fire" version is not very interesting in my case. But the kindle Touch, if it really have back light could be very interesting, I found classic tablet not adapted to read big books. Finger crossed !
    Goliath II
  • Why

    Why buy Kindle fire junk with old and locked Android? You can get the real thing for similar price if you buy the Nexus 7. You get access to the real Google appstore and can still use all Amazon media. You can also with the Nexus 7 use apps for media which competes with Anazon.
  • Interesting..

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