Analysts’ predictions are often not worth the electrons they’re printed on, but CNET reports Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley has said in a research note to investors that Amazon could launch an iPad-sized 9-inch Kindle Fire by the middle of the year. Such a device could increase expected Kindle Fire sales from 12.7 million to 14.9 million units this year. He based this information on his contacts with Amazon component suppliers, which does not necessarily mean it will be accurate.
This is only the latest in a number of reports that have suggested a 9-inch Fire could launch sometime this year, so the only thing really new about it is the source. It made a lot of sense for Amazon to introduce a mid-sized tablet early on and get people hooked on its platform. At least some of those will be inclined to upgrade to the 9-inch version, and people whose friends enjoyed the 7-inch version but who want something larger themselves might be more inclined to buy it as well.
The only downside for Amazon is that this larger Fire will be going head-to-head against Apple’s same-sized iPad, rather than positioning itself in a niche Apple had no plans of filling. The most visible previous competitors in that position—the BlackBerry PlayBook, the HP TouchPad—haven’t done so well. And if Apple kicks the game up another notch with a new Retina Display in this year’s iPad 3, that will steal some of the luster from a cheaper standard-display 9” Fire.
And, of course, we’ve not yet seen any confirmation that Amazon is really planning a 9” Fire at all.