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Amazon readying 9-inch Kindle Fire for 2012, analyst predicts

Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley says the larger device could launch as soon as the middle of 2012.

Will Amazon launch a bigger Kindle Fire this year?
Will Amazon launch a bigger Kindle Fire this year?

Amazon is nearing the launch of a 9-inch Kindle Fire, Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley says.

Bartley told investors in a research note this week that the 9-inch Kindle Fire could launch by the middle of the year. He didn't provide further details on the tablet, but did say that the 9-inch model should increase Kindle Fire sales this year from an expected 12.7 million units to 14.9 million.

Bartley wrote that his prediction is based on his own recent checks with Amazon component suppliers. While such checks can be helpful in getting a sense of a company's future plans, they're by no means definitive, and can often lead analysts down the wrong path.

Back in November, the often unreliable Digitimes reported that Amazon could start production of an 8.9-inch Kindle Fire in May 2012, with an eventual launch at the end of the second quarter. That report has been flanked by several reports, claiming Amazon could launch a 10-inch Kindle Fire.

Amazon has so far not commented on its future plans, and did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment. However, a larger Kindle Fire could help the company compete more effectively against Apple's iPad.

Last year, Amazon seemed unwilling to say that its Kindle Fire was an iPad competitor, but earlier this week, its attitude changed with the release of a new commercial discussing why its Kindle line is a better option than Apple's iPad. The company pointed to the iPad's high price and screen glare outdoors as two major factors consumers should consider before they decide to buy Apple's tablet.

Still, Amazon's estimated 6 million Kindle Fire sales last quarter were no match for Apple's iPad 2. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company reported recently that it sold 15.43 million iPads during the fourth quarter, alone.

(Via All Things Digital)