The Color Kindle is a long way off

Jeff Bezos with the Kindle.With the launch of the iPad, a lot of people (myself included) thought the Kindle was dead. I still don’t believe in purpose-built devices, but I can see the value of the device in the interim, that is, before tablets overtake the reader. But Amazon wants to stay competitive. Bezos is still building out the Kindle team if we are to believe recent job postings.

Most people believe the postings are for the development of the Color Kindle, but Amazon’s CEO tells a different story. According to Jeff Bezos, Amazon is “still some ways out” from delivering a color version of the device.

This isn’t news so much as it is an update. We heard last year that color e-ink displays were years off, but it’ still sobering news for the Kindle devotees.

International students can hate the DX too

Kindle DX.Amazon today quietly confirmed that it would start selling the Kindle DX in international markets in the near future. The news isn’t really a shock after the GSM Kindle announcement. As you may recall, the DX is the bigger version designed for textbooks and newspapers. It’s the model that was offered to Princeton students free of charge. The model those same students hated.

According to SlashGear, Amazon has only said “next year” with regard to a date and won’t say anything about pricing. The international Kindle 2 runs $20 above the states-only version. I’d guess the DX will be about the same, giving Princeton the unique opportunity of subsidizing $20 toward even crappier AT&T service for the rest of us. Thanks guys!

Kindle gets another price cut

Jeff Bezos with a Kindle 2.Amazon is cutting the price of the Kindle once more, this time hoping for a holiday rush. When the Kindle 2 launched it was $359. It dropped to $299 in July and has now cut another $40, bringing the world’s most famous e-reader to an almost reasonable $259 ($199 and we’ll talk, Bezos).

With the price cut also came news that wireless download capabilities have been added internationally in 10 different countries. That’s a big update for a feature that was previously only available stateside. The updated wireless also comes with a carrier change, from Sprint to (gasp!) AT&T. Yes, AT&T will be handling wireless communications for the internationally capable device in the US and abroad, which makes me wonder, does AT&T want to bury itself under a mountain of complaints? Of course, there are so few Kindles in the wild compared the newly VoIP over 3G enabled iPhones that this is probably a molecule in the vast ocean of AT&T’s wireless demands.

Amazon eBooks: Killing a Kindle Near You

Jeff Bezos with a Kindle.A couple days back I made a post about what it would take for me to get a Kindle. I’m looking for cheaper access to ebooks on more devices, and according to Jeff Bezos, I should be getting one of those wishes in the near future.

At a conference this week, Bezos laid out his plan for Amazon’s Kindle brand in full detail.

The device team has the job of making the most remarkable purpose-built reading device in the world. We are going to give the device team competition. We will make Kindle books, at the same $9.99 price points, available on the iPhone, and other mobile devices and other computing devices.

The good news, obviously, is that we’ll start to see ebooks on more portable and more versatile devices. The Kindle App for the iPhone is a great example of this, bringing the books to a device you’ll have with you regardless, not requiring you to lug something like a Kindle around.

As for bad news I can’t help but wonder, what’s the lifespan of the Kindle? Bringing ebooks to devices that have more features than the Kindle means one thing – the Kindle is going to die. Purpose-built devices have been disappearing for decades as consumers look for that all-in-wonder device. Cellphones, portable gaming systems, digital cameras, and digital camcorders have now all been wrapped up into one device. We went from word processors to computers to laptops to laptops with built in fingerprint readers and webcams and anything else you can imagine. Purpose-built devices are a dying breed, at least for the consumer-level use, and particularly in the case of the Kindle.

Unfortunately, Bezos’ $9.99 price point is still too rich for my blood. I rarely buy books at that price, and for the new releases I’ll splurge on, I want more than a restrictive file format to show for it. As Amazon’s eBooks get more popular and become available on more devices I know prices will go down, but I doubt Amazon will loosen restrictions.

What It Would Take To Get Me Interested In A Kindle

The Kindle DX.With the release of the Kindle DX, plenty of folks have been asking the same question: will you get one? For me, the answer is no. I like the feel of a physical book in my hands too much to let a Kindle take its place. I also love used book shopping, where I can pick up classic (and sometimes new) titles for less than a buck.

It was this post over at Crave that really made me wonder, what would it take to get me interested in a Kindle? For me that question has a simple translation. When is it more convenient to have a Kindle than a book? The Kindle doesn’t have enough features outside book reading to make it compelling for reasons other than book reading, so I’m going to ignore them. For me, it comes down to convenience and the emotional experience I get from reading a book.

I like the reasons Stein gives for his own experience. Pulling a book out on the subway is much more cumbersome than flipping to the Kindle app on his iPhone. The appeal is the same in my life, but paying full book price for something I can only read on a Kindle or an iPhone seems ridiculous.

What I could really use is both – something like movie studios have been doing recently to attempt to combat downloads – adding a digital copy to the physical media. As it currently stands, downloading books from the Kindle store is incredibly restrictive, and if you lose your Amazon account, you lose your books as well. Offering an option to download the book when I purchase the physical media could change that, giving me control of the storage (and yes, distribution) of my media.

Obviously there are pirating concerns for Amazon, and they lose the sweet deal they have going now whereby they reap most of the profit from selling digital copies. It’s hard to imagine, though, that they wouldn’t see increased usage from this sort of change. The iPhone Kindle App becomes a lot more appealing when it means I can continue my reading without lugging a book around but still have the option to kick back and fill margins with notes when I get the urge.

For now, a Kindle is the wrong device for me. I can’t help but think I’m paying a fee to relinquish control of my purchase, and that just doesn’t feel right.