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The low-price tablet wars could get a lot more interesting, if a report from TechCrunch is indeed accurate. The site has reason to believe that Amazon is actively working on a 7-inch Kindle Fire HD tablet that would cost just $99 — a price that is much less expensive than other notable tablets on the market.

Currently, Amazon already has one of the cheapest tablets on the market with its $159 non-HD Kindle Fire. The latest 7-inch Kindle Fire HD model is priced at $199, which matches the price of Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. The $99 version of the Kindle Fire HD would supposedly share many of the same specs that the current $199 model has, including a TI processor and 1280 x 800 screen resolution. Amazon recently announced price cuts for its other Kindle Fire HD models as well, selling the 8.9-inch model at $269 and the 8.9-inch model with LTE for $399.

The current 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.
The current 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.

If there was a company that could pull off a $99 tablet while still giving the device decent specs, it’s Amazon. The company isn’t interested in hardware profits — rather, its goal is to use the tablet to lure customers into the Amazon ecosystem. If Amazon can bring down the cost of the Kindle Fire HD’s components and get the cost of supplies and manufacturing for the device to around $100, the company would probably have no issue selling the tablet at-cost or even for a small loss. For every tablet sold, Amazon has one more chance to hook someone into spending money on Amazon goods and services.

As stated earlier, Amazon competes primarily with Google at the $199 price point. Dropping a tablet down to $99 might surely help Amazon get some separation from the search giant. But I have to ask — what’s stopping Google from doing the same thing? Google is another one of those companies that isn’t trying to make money on hardware sales, but instead the advertising revenue brought in by people using Google search on their mobile devices. If Google wanted to drop a version of its Nexus 7 tablet down to $99 to meet Amazon head-on, it could probably do it, and both companies would find themselves back in the same place, albeit $100 cheaper.

For the record, Amazon issued a statement in response to the rumors about a cheaper tablet: “We are already at the lowest price points possible for that hardware.” I personally don’t think that rules anything out, as Amazon is referring to the current 7-inch Kindle Fire HD tablet and not a potentially retooled, more cost-efficient version. But I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.


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