US etail giant Amazon is stepping up its assault on Apple’s iPad by launching two new versions of the Kindle Fire.

UK consumers will be able to buy the new 7 inch tablet for £159 next month. It is not known when the other 8.9 inch screen version will launch here.

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, speaking at the launch in Santa Monica, said: “We want to make money when people use our devices, rather than when they buy our devices.”  

The new Kindle Fire models have HD screens, dual WiFi antennas for faster downloading, and a front-facing camera.

Retailers including John Lewis and Dixons have enjoyed strong sales of tablets in recent years, as the portable devices become an increasingly popular alternative to laptops and desk top computers.

The Amazon launch comes as the etailer plans to create 2,000 jobs in the UK as part of plans to open three warehouses here by 2015.