Amazon drops price of 8.9-in. Kindle Fire HD to $269

Price drop is possible with increased volumes and sales to Japan and Europe

Amazon on Wednesday lowered the starting price of its large-screen 8.9-in. Kindle Fire HD tablet in the U.S. to $269 for the Wi-Fi version and $399 for the 4G version.

The price cuts, from $299 for the Wi-Fi version and from $499 for the 4G model, were not a response to slow sales, an Amazon spokesman said. Rather, the retailer said that it is able to charge less for the devices because it has increased production volumes and has seen reductions in related costs as the Kindle Fire has gone on sale in Europe and Japan.

"We're thrilled with customer reaction to [the 8.9-in.Kindle Fire HD]. Customers tell us they love our large-screen version of Kindle Fire HD for Web browsing, email, gaming, watching TV shows, reading magazines and more," said Dave Limp, vice president for the Amazon Kindle product line, in a statement. "As we expand [sales of the 8.9-in.Kindle Fire HD] to Europe and Japan, we've been able to increase our production volumes and decrease our costs. Across our business at Amazon, whenever we are able to create cost efficiencies like this, we want to pass the savings along to our customers."

The 8.9-in. Fire HD was announced Sept. 6 along with a 7-in. version.

At $269, Amazon's 16GB 8.9-in. Kindle Fire HD costs $230 less than Apple's closest comparable tablet, the 16GB 9.7-in. iPad with Retina display and Wi-Fi, which sells for $499.

The 8.9-in. Kindle Fire HD has screen resolution of 1920 x 1200, with 254PPI, the highest resolution of any Kindle Fire. Its battery is rated for 10 hours of life. The $269 price is for a 16GB Wi-Fi version; a 32GB Wi-Fi version sells for $299. The $399 4G version has 32GB of storage and also offers Wi-Fi connectivity. Amazon also has a 64GB version with 4G and Wi-Fi for $499.

The Kindle Fire runs a customized version of Android. It is one of a number of low-priced Android tablets on the market, which includes many models starting at $200 depending on size and storage volume. IDC this week said that Android will overtake Apple's iOS in the tablet market for the first time this year. The firm predicts that Android-powered tablets will account for 48.8% of tablets sold in 2013, with iOS tablets accounting for 46% of sales.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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