Mum is not the word.
Companies like to play their cards close to the chest nowadays, but sometimes partners can let the cat out of the bag. For example, carrier partner Verizon hinted at a speedy iPhone earlier this year, when the company said it would only release 4G LTE devices for the remainder of the year, potentially tipping Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) hand.
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) is now getting similar treatment from retail partner Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS ) . According to Reuters, domestic retail exec Demos Parneros has now confirmed that Amazon is set to release a whole slew of Kindle Fire tablets soon. We're talking about "up to five or six tablet SKUs," or stock-keeping units, commonly used in inventory management systems.
One product family can have multiple SKUs for different versions of the same product, so these "five or six" versions could vary in screen size, storage, or other specifications. Parneros also said the new lineup would include a 10-inch model, which would naturally compete directly with the iPad. I imagine we will see a new 10-inch model along with an upgraded 7-inch model, to try to fend off Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) new Nexus 7, each in multiple storage capacities. That could easily satisfy five to six new SKUs.
The current Kindle Fire is only available with 8 GB of storage, largely relying on cloud storage and streaming instead of local storage, and trails the Nexus 7 in just about every possible category. Of course, this is because it's an aging tablet, now approaching its one-year anniversary while the Nexus 7 is full of fresh blood.
Interestingly, Google is reportedly being pleasantly surprised by demand for its 16 GB Nexus 7, which actually carries a little bit of gross margin, with the device selling out and new sales suspended until Big G can catch up. The 16 GB model is also the only one available through third-party retailers, thanks to said margin, which should also be boosting sell-through. A 16 GB 7-inch Kindle Fire 2 may get a similarly warm reception.
Apple isn't resting on its laurels and will likely move downmarket to challenge Google and Amazon with an iPad Mini, reinvigorating its growth momentum. Sign up for this brand-new premium research service all about Apple to read everything you need to know.