Rumors are swirling across the Internet today that Amazon will be coming out with a new 9 inch Kindle Fire this summer. And the rumors appear to have originated from a pretty strong reliable source.

Chad Bartley, an analyst for Pacific Crest, said he expects two new models of the Kindle Fire to come out in mid-2012. Both a new 7 inch version and a 9 inch model. Bartley said his expectations are based on checks with manufacturers in Amazon’s supply chain.

Amazon has not commented on the rumor, but a larger model would be a logical next step in the evolution of the Kindle Fire. The Kindle e-book line currently ranges in size from 6 inch to 9.7 inches. With the Fire being geared toward content delivery, a larger screen would be an attractive improvement.

Amazon has been coy about just how many Kindle Fires they have been sold so far. Between estimates from analysts, and what Amazon has said about sales, here at CP we believe between 5 to 6 million were shipped during the fourth quarter of last year. That would make the Kindle Fire the second fastest shipping tablet over the 2011 holiday shopping season. The number one best selling tablet over the last quarter of 2011 was the Apple iPad 2, with 18.6 million shipped.

Rumors of a new iPad release the first weekend of next month are also gaining steam. We are seeing an increasing number of clues that something big is in the works (more on that here at CP soon).

If we see a new iPad release, a new Kindle Fire release, and the expected slew of low cost Android tablets, all hit the market this year – 2012 will prove to be a banner year for tablet shoppers!