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Amazon backtracks on 'dead on arrival' 8GB Kindle Fire model

CEO Jeff Bezos laid the 8GB unit of memory to rest last year during the Kindle Fire HD launch. So why did Amazon make one now?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, introducing the new crop of Kindle Fire tablets in September 2012. James Martin/CNET

Amazon has brought the 8-gigabyte tablet back from the dead with its new Kindle Fire HD model, despite laying the unit of storage to rest a year ago.

The company rolled out its latest line of tablets on Tuesday, opting for exclusive press briefings with select media at its Seattle headquarters, rather than a flashy launch event. In addition to a new family of tablets, the Kindle Fire HDX, the company nonchalantly introduced an 8GB option with its refresh of the Kindle Fire HD.

CEO Jeff Bezos made a big to-do about not offering an 8GB version of the Kindle Fire HD -- which started at 16GB -- at the launch for the device last year.

"For a high-def device, 8 gigabytes is dead on arrival," he said. The screen behind him flashed an image of a tombstone with the words "RIP 8GB" engraved on it during his announcement.

So why is the 8GB tablet back?

"We wanted to give our customers the choice, and we wanted to make it available for $139. Plus, there's free cloud storage," an Amazon spokeswoman said when asked for comment.

CNET's Eric Franklin said it has to do with Amazon competing in the now crowded low-budget tablet market and the company's new focus on streaming content.

"I think it's all about hitting that low price point. $139 for a Kindle Fire looks like a steal to most," he said. "Also, Amazon probably plans to leverage all of it's streaming services which don't require much storage."

The company, has always been heavily invested in delivering content, but that content has rapidly changed from physical books and CDs to streaming movies and music from the cloud. And that's when a tablet with 8GB of storage does just fine.