Books written by Ray Sullivan

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Kindle Paperwhite - Future or Past?

Amazon have been very busy this last week.  In fact they've been very busy all year, probably, but this week has seen them announce not one but two new eReaders in the UK.  First off is the much awaited and frequently erroneously announced Kindle Fire.  Originally launched in the US nearly a year ago it has been tipped on some blogs as being due here last January, then March and finally definitely Summer.  Pah, where do these bloggers get their information from?

Anyway, Amazon have announced that the second version of the Fire is going to be launched October 25th and is being pitched at between £129 and £159 depending on the version.  Plus an extra tenner if you don't want Amazon adverts pushed onto the home screen.  I'm not sure how that will pan out over here - it seemed to be accepted in the US, but we Brits are a tad conservative over things like this.  For me, I'd probably consider one £10 payment to be acceptable to eradicate what could be years of unwanted ads.

The pricing is very good, anyway.  It trounces the pricing for Google's Nexus 7, so it will be interesting to see how Google react to that.  But I don't think Google are Amazon's main target. Apple are.  Apple must be having tons of meetings right now to decide on how much to pitch the iPad mini at - they tie their own hands behind their own backs by always pricing gear at £x49 and £y99 price points, where x and y are usually unreasonably largish numbers like 4 or 5 when considering iPads and iPhones, however if they pitch the mini too close to the normal iPad price there will be little incentive to buy it, and too high above the Amazon offering will have a similar effect that boosts Amazon sales too.  I think a £199 iPad mini is more likely now thanks to Amazon than it was before.  £249 is also likely, but anything higher is chancing their arm.

The other announcement from Amazon is the launch of the Kindle Paperwhite.  This is a traditional eReader, that is it can be read in sunlight and has a battery life that lasts close to the life of the universe.  It also has built in lights so that it can be read in the dark, probably the major limitation of this technology in the past, much like real books.  The built in light isn't that innovative - Nook's have been doing it for months - but it does fill in a perceived gap in the Kindle range.  But like the paper based books the Paperwhite seems to trying to replace, it is probably as doomed.  The pricing isn't that keen - £109 for the basic WiFi and an incredible £169 for the 3G version so if you're strapped for cash, go for the basic Fire, otherwise stretch to the HD version would be my advice.  OK, you can read the Paperwhite outside and in the dark, but to be fair I don't do either of those two activities that often, individually or together.  It's not that I'm against the Kindle eReaders - I've used one for two years now and it felt like the future at first, in fact it's been a great journey, but one trick ponies have a natural life cycle.  I expect I'll still be using my Kindle for years, but I doubt I'll ever replace it with another e-ink device.  Now my Nexus - I suspect I'll always have a tablet close to hand for the rest of my natural.

Amazon have a comprehensive line up as we approach the holiday season, or Christmas as we insist on calling it in secular Britain.  I'm sure they will do well, but I think tablets will outsell e-ink devices by a significant margin this year and I suspect that next Christmas the Amazon line up will be quite different. They'll probably persist with e-ink devices for a few more years, but don't expect any major developments beyond internal lighting and I expect they will quietly drop them over time.

The real battle over the next two months will be around tablets, with e-ink devices running a very poor second.  Next year it will be all about tablets.


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