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Amazon prepping 8.9-inch Kindle Fire successor?

The online giant is said to have begun production on a larger version of its already-popular tablet.

An 8.9-inch model of the Kindle Fire is rumored for early 2012.

Though Barnes & Noble countered Amazon's upcoming Kindle Fire by unveiling the Nook Tablet today, Amazon isn't stopping in its tracks.

In fact, even before the Kindle Fire hits stores, rumors already suggest that the company is prepping its follow-up device for early 2012.

As you may know, rumors have circulated for months that Amazon is working on a 10-inch "Hollywood" tablet slated for a second-quarter 2012 launch. But just this week, new details have surfaced that suggest the online giant has opted to go with an 8.9-inch model instead.

According to sources close to DigiTimes, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and LG Display have started production for the new panels. Both companies are current suppliers of 7-inch panels being used in the Kindle Fire.

It's unknown whether the 8.9-inch model will outright replace the rumored 10-inch device or if it will stand alone as an intermediary product. Though the 10-inch tablet was said to include a quad-core processor, it's likely that we're months away from such cutting-edge tech coming to either the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a stop-gap device released with hardware that answers the new Barnes & Noble tablet and then later a beefy, 10-inch model. Of course, much of this will depend on how well the Kindle Fire fares and whether consumers will want to spend an extra $50 for more hardware.

Should the Nook Tablet prove successful, it would make sense for Amazon to release something in a $249 to $299 price point with extra memory, storage, and a still-portable 8.9-inch display size.