“Amazon.com Inc unveiled a larger, high-speed Kindle Fire tablet on Thursday for $499, challenging Apple Inc’s dominant iPad and intensifying a battle with Google Inc and Microsoft in the booming tablet arena,” Lisa Richwine and Alistair Barr report for Reuters.

“The world’s largest Internet retailer, which got into the market last year with a tablet roughly half the price of the iPad, will begin selling on Nov 20 an 8.9-inch version with a high-definition screen, that works off fourth-generation or 4G wireless broadband,” Richwine and Barr report. “Called the Kindle Fire HD, its price tag matches the current-generation WiFi-only iPad but its 1920 by 1200 resolution screen lags Apple’s so-called ‘retina’ display. At 8.9 inches, it is also smaller.”

“Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, taking the stage in Santa Monica, California, unveiled two 8.9-inch versions, both called the Kindle Fire HD. A Wi-Fi version will go for $299. Two 7-inch tablets will cost less. The updated Kindle Fire will go for $159 and a Kindle Fire HD version is priced at $199,” Richwine and Barr report. “On Thursday, the company also showed off a ‘paperwhite’ e-reader with a much sharper screen and longer battery life. The 3G wireless version that made digital readers mainstream will sell for $179 starting in October, in time for the crucial holiday season. A Wi-Fi-only version will go for $119, and the cheapest will carry a $69 price tag — undercutting the cheapest Barnes and Noble Nook.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Competition is only good when the competition is any good. For now, at these price points, Amazon has some compelling tablet/e-readers.

For sure, they’re still inferior in terms of hardware, software, industrial design, and ecosystem versus what Apple already offers today and has been offering for years, but Wintel long ago proved that quality and ease-of-use doesn’t matter as much as price to the great unwashed – plus Amazon’s offerings are markedly less inferior to Apple’s current lineup after today.

Today, from Amazon, we saw the first real challenge to Apple’s iPad hegemony.

You can bet they’re crunching iPad numbers in Cupertino this afternoon. Can’t wait to see your answers, Apple!

Related article:
Amazon announces slew of new Kindle tablets – September 6, 2012