With the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 7 turning heads and talk of an Apple iPad mini starting to look like more than the usual rumor mill grist, it's not surprising to hear of an imminent Kindle Fire refresh. A new 7-inch tablet may appear July 31st.
Launched in November, the Kindle Fire is ripe for new hardware. For one thing, its dual-core processor is about to take a beating from the quad-core processors appearing in competing 7-inch tablets. (The Nexus 7 has a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU.) Another issue is the Kindle Fire's lack of a camera. Amazon's consumption vs. production philosophy may be tested by similarly-sized tablets that let you Skype and iChat.
On the OS side, the Kindle fire is facing off against Android 4.1 Jelly Bean in the Nexus 7 and Apple's iOS 5.1, with iOS 6 coming in the fall. The Kindle Fire has received some recent updates, adding sharing features and parental controls, and improving its speed when reconnecting to Wi-Fi from sleep. Even so, a hardware upgrade would seem likely to prompt some new features on the software side, as well.
And, of course, there's price. Apple can be counted on to define the top of the market, but the Nexus 7 (8GB) and Kindle Fire come in at $199 each. Will Amazon stick to that price point?