Jeff Bezos on Amazon tablet: "stay tuned"

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has poured a lot of fuel to the fire this week in the growing rumors that the online retailer is planning a feature-rich tablet device.

In an interview with Consumer Reports, Bezos talked about the Kindle and confirmed it isn’t going away anytime soon, but also addressed speculation that a new, more fully functional device is on the way, saying, “In terms of any other product introductions, I shouldn’t answer.”

When further pressed, he reportedly said that consumers should “stay tuned” for a future announcement.

With the Kindle now facing stiff competition from color-screen, multi-purpose tablet devices – which didn’t even really exist when the flagship e-reader was first released – it seems more than likely that Amazon will step up to compete in the growing market.

Bezos noted, however, that even in the world of iPads and Nook Colors, the Kindle holds a lot of value. “We will always be very mindful that we will want a dedicated reading device,” he said. The Kindle has an extremely long battery life, functions well in bright lighting conditions, including out under the beaming sun, and doesn’t cause eye strain like other electronic devices.

But people are used to accommodating their life around their smartphones and tablets these days, so it looks like Amazon may soon embrace the LCD display segment as well. Likely to be powered by Android, an Amazon tablet would have the same benefits as the Kindle, in that it would get free unabashed promotion across the world’s #1 online retailer, and it could have deep integration with many of Amazon’s online and digital distribution services.

For now, all the details remain up for speculation, but after Bezos’s latest comments, it seems like a certainty that at least something is in the works.