Amazon’s Fresh Tablet Attack Is Approaching

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is reported to be releasing the second version of its Kindle Fire tablet in late July. The new device will get a few hardware upgrades, including a physical volume control and a back-facing camera, according to CNET. A summer release will put the new tablet in just the right time frame for back-to-school shopping. Amazon is said to be hoping to handle the Fire with Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) strategy by continually improving its hardware and software while maintaining a fixed price point of $199.

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The upgraded tablet will just be the latest in line of newly launched iPad competitors. According to one report, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is expected to announce its own 7-inch tablet this week, also at a price of $199 and running on its new operating system, Jelly Bean. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), of course, announced its entry into the market with the Surface, which will debut later this year and run on the new Windows 8 software. Then there are the tablets in the same price range that are already in the market, including Barnes & Noble’s (NYSE:BKS) Nook Tablet and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, which are both affordable and rich in features.

The Kindle Fire, of course, is in a strange position as far as Google goes because while the Amazon tablet uses the Android OS, it has its own app store and brand name. The first generation of the tablet, launched last November, has pretty much been the lone threat to the iPad’s dominance and owns more than 50 percent of the Android tablet market. It is also Amazon’s best-selling item on its online retail store.

While sales of the Amazon tablet had dropped for a while, they have picked up again, according to Pacific Crest Securities. Pacific analyst Chad Bartley also wrote on Tuesday in a note to investors that component orders for the Fire tablet had jumped about 60 percent from initial expectations, adding to the possibility of a new device coming out soon.

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