We’re now hearing that a $99 Kindle Fire 7" tablet is in production, and will be shipping this year. At a price that low, the Kindle Fire would be able to more easily compete at the tail end of the Android-based tablet market – an area which is today dominated by low-cost tablets out of China, often sold at the sub-$100 price point.
According to what we’ve heard, the $99 Kindle Fire HD will also still sport a TI processor like the rest of the lineup, and will have a 1280×800 resolution, like today’s Kindle Fire HD 7" does.
While there's a good chance that Lab126 is working on a $99 tablet design, I would be willing to bet serious money that some of the details that were leaked to Techcrunch are probably wrong.
My first problem with the rumor is that it neglects to take into account the current Kindle Fire, which is priced at $159 (this detail was missed by most of the blogs repeating this rumor). A $99 KFHD would kill that more expensive tablet, so at a minimum the current Kindle Fire would have to go away.
But why should it go away?
I find it much more plausible that Amazon would decide to cut the price on the Kindle Fire rather than launch a new tablet. The KF is still a decent value, and at the new lower price point it would be a great value.
If I'm correct then the name and screen resolution are both wrong in the rumor. While I don't have any info to prove this one way or another, my gut tells me that I'm right.
But assuming there is a completely new tablet at that price point I'm not sure that it will use a TI chip (like Amazon's current tablets). I don't think TI has the staff. TI laid off 1,700 from the OMAPS division in November 2012 and reportedly exited the tablet and smartphone CPU market.
Unless someone who knows more than me shows up to dispute what that report means, I'm going to say that TI can't be providing a new chip for a new $99 Amazon tablet.
And that means that the hypothetical new $99 Amazon tablet is far more likely to use a CPU from another manufacturer and could even use one that was custom designed by Lab 126. Remember, that Amazon sub does have a system and chip architect on hand (along with a screen tech developer), so it is possible that Amazon is planning to use a custom chip in the new tablet (assuming it exists).
In any case, we don't know whether this rumor is true or not and we won't know until Amazon decides to leak more details.
Does anyone want to add your own guesses? The comments are open.
Update: This rumor has been denied by Amazon:
"It's not happening--we are already at the lowest price points possible for that hardware."
They are probably correct; if Amazon could have lowered the price of the Kindle Fire below $159 they would have.