Most of the talk recently has been about Apple's looming event on January 27, where it's been widely reported that the company will unveil a tablet PC of some undetermined size. Whether this device is a game-changer along the lines of the original iPod or iPhone remains to be seen, but lost in the shuffle is the possibility that Amazon's breakthrough e-reader, the Kindle, may be on the verge of an upgrade.
To be clear, I don't have any inside information or anonymous sources telling me that Amazon's bought thousands of parts from some Taiwanese manufacturer. But let's speculate for a moment on the possibilities for a new Kindle and what it might look like.
For starters, the Kindle 2 (now called the Kindle, U.S. and international wireless, latest edition), was launched on February 9 of last year. That's relevant because in recent years Amazon has been doing its best to imitate Apple, and Apple tends to be fairly regimented in rolling out updates to its major products. For instance, new iPods tend to be announced in the fall, and new iPhones have been released in June.
You could argue that while Kindle has had upgrades to its wireless service (Amazon added an international option by moving from Sprint to AT&T) over the year--and the Kindle DX was released in May of 2009--the Kindle, now approaching a year old, is due for a bigger refresh in February, especially if Apple's slate proves to be the e-reader on steroids that many are positing it will. (As has been widely discussed, the potential big strike against the Apple tablet could be price. If it ends up being in $750-$1000 range, that's rather expensive for someone looking for a device you plan on primarily using as an e-reader).
In the last couple of days, Amazon has also made a few announcements pointing to the possibility that a new device is coming. In describing the terms of its new higher 70 percent royalty for authors using its Digital Text Platform for publishing content in the Kindle Store, Amazon said that it was planning on adding new features to both the store and the Kindle.
The next day it followed up with an announcement that it was releasing a new software development kit (SDK) so developers could create new apps for the Kindle. In its release, the company referred to the new apps being tested on the simulators for the current 6-inch Kindle and Kindle DX, but it's debatable how suitable the current Kindles are for running apps, particularly when you factor in the lag times of E-ink.
The release also has a quote from an EA Games executive talking about developing games for the Kindle platform.… Read more