Amazon’s Scorched-Earth Win: $139 Kindle

Two articles cited within:

Kindle to Go ‘Mass Market’ Inc. plans to release a cheaper Kindle e-reader next month, said Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, laying out a strategy to go “mass market” with an inexpensive gadget designed to do just one thing: sell digital books from Amazon.

The new Kindle features a screen with increased gray-scale contrast, a battery that lasts for a month, and a slightly smaller size. It will come in two flavors: one with Wi-Fi and 3G Internet connections selling for $189, the other with Wi-Fi only for $139. The latter will be among the cheapest wireless-equipped e-readers on the market, at least for now.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Wow. I think Barnes & Noble just got indigestion.

And Borders, with its very low-end USB-cable-syncing $149 Kobo Reader, just had a heart attack.

Over at Sony, it cannot be a good day (it’s just near 5PM for them in California as I type this).

Think about it! Last year at this time, one of these devices cost between $199 (Sony Pocket Reader) to $300 (Sony Reader Touch), which other entrants boasting of larger displays and prices nearing $500.

People marveled at the Kobo Reader coming in at $149 just a few months ago.

Now Amazon has just made a Kindle at half the price it used to be!

It doesn’t matter that it’s WiFi-only. If people can pop into a Starbucks (maybe even just stand outside one!), it won’t take long to download a book that must be had now.

And there’s one thing Bezos said that must be noted:

… Mr. Bezos said he wasn’t interested in making an Amazon tablet computer. “There are going to be 100 companies making LCD [screen] tablets,” he said. “Why would we want to be 101? I like building a purpose-built reading device. I think that is where we can make a real contribution.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Bezos is actually careful with the words he uses. And he used LCD there. This does not rule out a non-LCD screen.

However, I must also note this:

Mr. Bezos said he intentionally left off some potential whiz-bang features from the new Kindle, like color and touch-screen controls, that would have introduced compromises to the reading experience such as glare.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

That’s a swipe at the Sony Reader Touch, which can have glare issues. And I also wonder if it says something about the Mirasol screen?

It’s an open secret that Amazon has been recruiting developers of popular iPhone apps to develop for the Kindle. So I don’t think we can yet rule out the possibility of a KindlePad in the future. But now I don’t think that will happen this year at all.

Amazon intends to sew up all of electronic bookselling with this move.

And then there is this bombshell:

New Amazon Kindle announced: $139 WiFi-only version and $189 3G model available August 27th in the US and UK

Software wise, there are some interesting new features, the most notable being the inclusion of an “experimental” Webkit-based browser.

That spells the death of ePub to me.

Books belong on the Net and the Net is increasingly mobile and WebKit-based. iOS, Android, webOS, even Nokia, use WebKit-based browsers.

That Amazon has jumped to WebKit for its browser too is deeply significant to me.

And now the Kindle is coming to the UK too. Other countries can’t be far behind.

If you had any doubts that Amazon has won, you better wake up now.

Previously here:

Amazon, Customer Service, And Twitter
Kindle eBooks: Always Sample Before Buying!
“Amazon Kindle Inside”?
Your ePub eInk Device Will Be Obsolete Soon
Amazon’s Monopoly: Selling, But Not Reading
The Kindle Store UI Is Full Of FAIL
Odyssey Editions: No Covers?
Get Over It: Kindle Has Won
Why Amazon’s Kindle Won
Amazon’s Numbers: What They Mean, Why They Matter
Why Kindle Is Winning And Nook Will Lose
This Settles It: Kindle eBooks Are The Standard Now
Amazon + Public Libraries = Uh-Oh!
The Abominable Kindle Wins?

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