Half a dozen new Kindle Fire tablets coming to challenge iPad

Confirming an earlier AllThingsD story, Staple CEO Demos Parneros told Reuters today that Amazon is about to unleash half a dozen new Kindle Fire tablets, including a brand new ten-inch model obviously engineered to take Apple’s iPad head on.

The online retailer recently acquired 3D mapping startup UpNext, another indication that it means business when it comes to tablets. And of course, the company is also thought to be readying a smartphone of its own

Alistair Barr, reporting for Reuters:

Amazon is to introduce up to five or six tablet SKUs, or stock-keeping units, according Demos Parneros, president of U.S. Retail for Staples Inc (SPLS.O), which sells the Fire.

The tablets will be different sizes, including a 10-inch model, Parneros said. Amazon spokespeople declined to comment on the company’s plans.

The current Amazon tablet, nearly a year old, got off to a promising start after it had been introduced last September.

However, sales cooled post holiday as budget shoppers began taking notice about unpleasant trade-offs that Amazon deemed necessary to hit the $199 sweet spot. Then Google comes with its Nexus 7 and suddenly Amazon’s seven incher looks outdated and ripe for a refresh.

If anything, the Kindle Fire has enabled Amazon to establish a following in the tablet space and the coming models will build upon that to widen the company’s footprint in tablets, consequentially helping boost content sales on Amazon.com.

John Paczkowski wrote on the AllThingsD blog earlier in the month that Amazon has a new Kindle Fire model in the works sporting a much improved display at HD-ready 1280-by-800 pixels versus a 1024-by-600 pixel display on the original Kindle Fire.

The display is said to be sharper and more vibrant, with an entirely new width-to-height ratio and a 29 percent greater pixel density than the current Kindle Fire.

The device will allegedly have cameras, a faster chip, improved graphics and an updated version of forked Android software to support that new display.

With Amazon entering Apple’s 9.7-inch territory, Google making waves at the low-end with its Nexus 7 and Microsoft coming all guns blazing with the Surface at the high-end, a smaller and cheaper mini iPad should be a no-brainer at this point, don’t you think?