Amazon slashes price of 4G Kindle Fire HD by $100, expands tablet to Europe & Japan

Amazon (s AMZN) announced Wednesday that it’s dropping the price of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD in the United States, and is also rolling out the tablet in Europe and Japan.
The biggest price cut is for the 4G LTE Kindle Fire HD. The 32 GB version, which had been $499, gets a price drop to $399. The Wi-Fi-only version of the same tablet gets a price cut of $30 — to $269 for the 16 GB version and $299 for the 32 GB version.
Amazon is also launching the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, with Wi-Fi only, in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. It will start at £229.00 (USD $341) in the U.K., €269 (USD $348) in Europe and ¥24,800 (USD $258) in Japan. (Amazon told me that the varying prices are due to different operating costs in the countries.)
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, which launched last September, is Amazon’s answer to the iPad (s AAPL). Amazon also launched a 7-inch Wi-Fi Kindle Fire HD, which starts at $199, last fall; that tablet, which is already available in Europe and Japan, is not getting a price cut.
Dave Limp, VP of Kindle, claimed in a statement that “As we expand Kindle Fire HD 8.9” to Europe and Japan, we’ve been able to increase our production volumes and decrease our costs. Across our business at Amazon, whenever we are able to create cost efficiencies like this, we want to pass the savings along to our customers.” But the move may also be intended to help the Kindle Fire compete with the iPad Mini, which has a 7.9-inch screen and starts at $329.
A previous version of this story stated that the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD would cost ¥15,800 (USD $164) in Japan. That is the price of the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD in the country.