The Amazon Kindle ebook reader was first introduced in 2007. Initially it seemed like rather a far fetched idea that we would all want to read on a small hand-held device. After all, paper books have been good enough for quite some while.
But as time went by, and the technology got better (and cheaper) the electronic reading device actually began to make sense. The 2nd generation Kindle did a lot better than the first, whilst other products from Sony, Barnes & Noble et al sold increasingly well. So well, in fact that Amazon came up with the DX version which boasted a whopping 9.7 inch screen that was great for reading newspapers and working on, but too large and too expensive for most buyers to actually really want.
The Kindle 3 – The Ebook Reader Goes Main-Stream
Still though, ebook reading devices were relatively expensive and not truly loved by the masses, over a paper copy. The technology was good but many still found it more comfortable to read paper than e-ink. And, at over $250 it was a real luxury item, predominantly owned by an older generation with money to spare, and failing eye-sight to consider. The first selling point of the original ebook readers was their variable font sizes that meant you could take the strain out of reading small text.
Roll on July 2010 and the Kindle 3rd Generation eBook Reader took the world by storm. Bringing the price well below the $200 mark, and offering us both 3G and wi-fi ways to connect wirelessly for instant downloads of new books, alongside the awe inspiring Pearl e-ink display made more and more of us consider investing in a portable reader.
The outstanding battery life, and the ability to store thousands of titles on one extremely lightweight and easy to use device made the Amazon Kindle a must have accessory for commuters and travellers alike.
Tablet Competition for Amazon
Of course 2010 was also the year of the iPad. Suddenly a sleek, colorful touch-screen that could do almost everything your laptop could, was all the rage. Of course tech sites initially pondered the demise of ebook readers, after all the tablet computer was simply sexier, and far more versatile.
True, but for those of us that enjoy reading a lot, the tablet is often not the first choice. The back-lit screen mean you don’t have the same portability since the battery runs down so quickly. Some find that display also strains the eyes when reading for long periods, and of course the other issue is that reading on an LCD display can feel a little too much like “work” after a day in an office staring at a computer.
There probably were consumers that didn’t bother to buy an ebook reader once the tablet launched, but still many more did anyway. The advantages of a cheap and cheerful, easy to read display with a battery life of up to a month, and no wireless contract were still very obvious to many.
Of course Barnes & Noble took a slightly different approach and gave us the Nook Color, which is really a small and affordable tablet. But the advantages of e-ink still win out for many.
Amazon took advantage of the fact that many consumers have tablets, smart phones and the like by offering a Kindle Reader App to use on those other devices. So even if you bought an iPad, you could still buy your content from the online retailer. This is crucial to the Amazon Kindle story.
Whilst other products might prove better for some, it is hard to ignore the sheer power of the end content that Amazon can offer, alongside the seamless ordering process, and the fact that so many of us already know our way around their web-site and are happy to buy from them.
Amazon Kindle 2011
So things have definitely changed within the world of digital reading. More of us than ever have smart phones, tablets and PCs loaded up with reading applications. Technology is changing and we like that. So of course we cannot believe that Amazon would let their iconic Kindle Reader stand still for two long.
There are some key developments that are being hotly gossiped about and anticipated in the technology press. Of course Apple are saying nothing but we can be pretty sure that the innovative retail giant will bring us something later this year. Just what it is remains to be seen though, but might include any or all of the following (which we discuss in more detail in the linked articles):
- An Amazon Tablet? According to many insiders, and Forrester Research only Amazon can really hope to take a significant share of the tablet market from Apple.
- A Color Kindle Reader? Of course a tablet would be color, but what about keeping the low power, easy to view e-ink but adding color? Well it is becoming more than possible since Triton e-ink and Mirasol technologies could give us a color display very much like the monochrome one now used.
- A Touch-screen Kindle Reader? Well just about everything else is touch-screen nowadays, and Amazon bought TouchCo (who made guess what, touch-screens) in 2009 so why not?
- Free Kindles? This is not as daft as it sounds. We already have an ultra cheap reader with ads for only $114, and offering readers to all those Prime subscribers could be an easy way to increase content sales.
Whatever Amazon are up to, it seems it is likely to be BIG! After all 2011 has seen the ebook reader fall in price massively. We now have a position where Amazon sells more electronic books than real paper-backs, Kindle books can be lent, will be able to be borrowed from libraries and the huge Amazon Cloud computing store is offering more and more content that would be ideally suited to a potential Kindle Tablet. With an Android Apps store to rival the Android marketplace and music downloads and video streaming, the future of Amazon’s mobile technology is likely to be very bright indeed!