Amazon unveiled four new Kindle Fire tablet computers last Thursday, including ones with larger colour screens, as the online retailer steps up competition with Apple ahead of the holiday shopping season.
Amazon.com Inc showed off the larger Kindle Fire with a high-definition display amid expectations that Apple Inc will introduce a smaller iPad as early as next week.
The larger Fires will have screens that measure 8.9 inches diagonally, compared with 9.7 inches for the iPad.
The original Fire had 7-inch screens. The basic version of the larger Fire will sell for US$299, or US$100 less than the cheapest iPad.
"It's very clear today that there are two names in the market for tablets. One is Amazon and one is Apple," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice-president at Gartner.
Seven out of every 10 tablets sold in the second quarter were iPads, according to IHS iSuppli. Tablets using Google's Android operating system have not been able to carve out a significant stake. Amazon is trying to change that with the new Fires, which run a modified version of Android.
Amazon has been selling lower-priced tablets at thin, if any, profit margins to boost sales of digital items from its online store. As a result, it has been able to compete with the iPad on price.
CEO Jeff Bezos said in an interview backstage that Amazon won't lose money on the devices even if customers don't use them to buy digital content from its online store.