Feb. 10, 2012 at 3:15 PM ET
A Kindle Fire with a 9-inch screen could be coming mid-year, according to an analyst who is raising sales estimates for the popular Amazon device based on a bigger-screen model joining the lineup.
A 9-inch version of the Fire has been bandied about; Apple's iPads — 1 and 2 — have 9.7-inch screens, and the same size is projected for iPad 3, which is expected to be announced next month.
AllThingsD's John Paczkowski notes that Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley "this week raised his Fire sales estimate" because of a bigger Fire added to the mix. " 'We are raising our 2012 sales forecasts to 14.9 million from 12.7 million,' he wrote. 'But we believe there is an upward bias, particularly from the new 7- and 9-inch models, which we expect to launch in mid-2012.' "
A recent survey of Kindle Fire owners found that they're quite happy with the low cost of the Fire ($199, compared to the cheapest iPad at $499). But they do have issues over some of the FIre's features, including the lack of a volume button and camera, as well as a short battery life.
Screen size may be an issue for some potential buyers. On the survey's lists of "likes" about the Fire, after price, color screen and ease of use — way down on the list — was the Fire's 7-inch screen size; only 12 percent said that was a positive. Another chief Fire competitor, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet ($249) has a 7-inch screen; if Amazon were to add a bigger Fire, it would be better positioned to fight both Apple and Barnes & Noble.