lunes, 3 de octubre de 2011

Kindle 3 is a reality

The new Kindle 3 is a reality

, and no doubt orders for the new eReader are piling up by the thousands. For those of you who don't know what a Kindle is; simply put, it's an electronic book from Amazon which is about the height of a large novel and as slim as half a pencil. Is all the excitement for the Kindle 3 merited or is it just the same old device in a new graphite case? Let's look at what Kindle 3 brings to the table and what Amazon decided to leave out. However, before we do that we need to put some focus on the eReader market and what Amazon is trying to achieve with the Kindle.

New Kindle 3 from Amazon

It's no surprise to say that Amazon is facing a very different world compared to when it first released the Kindle. The competition for the eReader market is getting crowded at both the budget end and the high-end. Additionally, there has been a lot of talk about "kindle-killers' which are looking to dethrone the Kindle king as the number one eReader. The Kobo eReader was released earlier this year, with a price tag significantly less than the Kindle at $149, and it will be news to nobody that Apple launched its attack into the eReader market with the media-rich iPad.

As well as a tough market, Amazon is faced with a strange situation where the implicit consumer demands are contradictory to the explicit demands. On the one hand, the unspoken implicit demands are telling Amazon that readers want an easy to use device that doesn't distract from the reading experience. Something very "book-like." On the other hand, the explicit demands are requesting a new state-of-the-art device with multi-media functionality, with touch screen technology, video viewing, etc...

How has Amazon responded to these challenges? Firstly, they weren't tempted to create an eReader which does everything and distracts from its main task; namely reading. The Kindle 3 has kept its simple interface and is still very "book-like". Secondly, Amazon has counter-attacked the budget eReaders entering into the market by launching two versions of the Kindle 3. These being, a Kindle with 3G Wifi ($189) and a Kindle with Wifi ($139). The Kindle 3G Wi-Fi device maintains the previous price tag of the Kindle 2 while adding a bunch of new functionality. The Kindle Wi-Fi undercuts a large majority of other eReaders on the market, while delivering a mature product which is backed up the Amazon book store with millions of titles to choose from.

Given the situation where Amazon finds itself, let's look at what features they put into the Kindle 3 and what they decided to leave left out.

Kindle 3 - what they put in.

Amazon focused on improving the Kindle's basic functionality, by letting the Kindle do what it does best: reading.

Amazon has improved on the readability of the device, which by all standards was already very good. They claim 50% better contrast than any other eReader, better readability under bright sunlight, and some new improved fonts to read your books with.

The physical device itself has also been improved. The size of the Kindle has been reduced while maintaining the same dimensions for the reading area. The battery life has also not been neglected. A simple charge can last up to one month.

The capacity for the Kindle 3 is now 3500 books which can be down loaded in under 60 seconds.

Wi-Fi is added to the 3G as a way of connecting with your Kindle so that you can browse the Amazon bookstore and the net with the new web-kit based browser.

Kindle 3 - what they left out

After the release of Apple's iPad the expectations for the Kindle were sky-high. In a nut-shell people wanted an Amazon iPad. Now that some time has passed, the iPad is a slightly less attractive as a device for reading books. People are realizing it's too heavy to hold for hours, and the display which is LCD is not easy on the eyes over long periods of time.

A lot of people were predicting color screens for the Kindle 3. There was a lot of sense with this, as there are currently a lot of eReaders coming to the market that have color. A non-color device next to a color device looks quite dull in comparison. However to include color is not as easy as first thought. This would involve leaving the e-Ink technology behind which is responsible for the "book-like" text on the Kindle display. A possibility is that the eInk technology could be radically improved to incorporate color into the display, but Amazon and there R&D teams are not there yet. Another alternative is to use LCD technology as found in the iPad, but then you increase eye-strain over long reading periods and the inability to read in direct sunlight.

Kindle 4?

The Kindle 3 has successfully improved on an already mature product, in response to increasing tough market conditions and growing consumer demands. While the Kindle 3 will not surpass expectations, it nevertheless provides an improved reading experience that will not disappoint. Jeff Bezos recently declared that the Kindle is in for the long haul and that he expects that there will be dozens more generations of Kindle ahead. Let's hope that the Kindle 4 will do that little bit more than the Kindle 3.

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