The Amazon Kindle Fire (Getty)
McLean, VA (written by Scott Martin/USA Today) -- Amazon is planning three new Kindle Fire tablets to go mano a mano against rivals Google and Apple, according to industry tracker DisplaySearch.
Online retail giant Amazon is eyeing production of the new tablets - all with 7-inch screens - timed for the holiday shopping season, according to DisplaySearch. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, Apple is prepping a mini iPad on the same schedule, says DisplaySearch, though Apple has declined to comment. And Google just last week launched its 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet, available for pre-order, along with more movie, TV, music and e-book options through its Google Play store.
Google, Amazon and Apple are fighting to capture consumers and keep them brand loyal by providing a mix of devices, media stores and cloud-based storage services.
Amazon's move comes amid reports that the company is also forging a rival to Android phones that run on Google's mobile operating system, and Apple iPhones. Amazon is working with Chinese manufacturer Foxconn on the smartphone, according to a Bloomberg News report.
A smartphone from Amazon has been long expected. Competition is widening beyond e-readers and tablets, for Amazon, Citi analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a note to clients last year. Smartphones are a "next logical step for Amazon," he said.
U.S. tech bellwethers Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft are all vying for tablets and smartphones in a bid for a slice of the markets for the fast-selling consumer devices. Microsoft last month unveiled plans for its 10.6-inch Surface tablets to rival Apple's 9.7-inch iPads. Microsoft's home-brewed Surface tablets, built by Asus, are expected by the holidays as well.
The smackdown over book-size tablets is driven by consumer appetites for greater portability. Amazon is on track to build a new 7-inch Wi-Fi tablet; another with a slightly better screen (1280 x 800 resolution), camera and Wi-Fi; and a third with a camera, Wi-Fi and 4G wireless capability, according to DisplaySearch.
Amazon is "creating a niche around a smaller screen size," DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim says. "The addition of 4G doesn't surprise me because the 7-inch is inherently more portable. It's going to make impulse purchasing a lot easier."
And the overall tablet market is exploding. IDC forecasts that by 2016 there will be 222 million tablets shipped worldwide, and 61% of those will be sold by Apple.