Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, have something very distinct in common. They both know how to keep a secret. Just like Apple, Amazon was tight lipped about the second generation Kindle. The Internet was hot with rumors about something going on in Amazon about the Kindle, but really knew little about it. Yesterday, Bezos made the announcement at the historic Morgan Library & Museum of a new Kindle to be released on February 24th.
Before the announcement of the Kindle 2, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage, Steve Jobs-style, with a slide show recap of the original Kindle’s success before making the big debut.
Bezos described that the price, $359, remains the same. This fact rained on many gadget fans parade. The battery life’s been improved by about 25 percent. The Kindle 2 is much skinnier than its predecessor, slimming down to 0.36 inches in thickness from 0.7, but it’s only a tenth of an ounce lighter. The storage capacity has jumped from 256MB to 2GB, or about 200 to 1,500 books, and the electronic ink display has improved from a 4-shade to 16-shade grayscale.
The layout of some of the buttons has been restructured, and the new Kindle also has a text-to-speech reader. In short, the improvements seem worthwhile, but there was no real curve ball to give the Kindle a mainstream appeal. The price is still too steep for average users. Plus the economic scenario is not a bright one these days to pay $359 for an electronic book reader.
Amazon also announced a new feature, Whispersync, which would allow readers to begin a book on one Kindle and continue, at the same point in the text, on another Kindle or a mobile phone.
Analysts say the move is aimed at establishing Amazon as the dominant e-commerce platform for books, a position similar to the one Apple has assumed in music with its iTunes Store.
Van Baker, an analyst at research firm Gartner commented:
“The Kindle has enjoyed very strong response from the mobile professional segment, the people who spend a lot of time on airplanes, who like to be reading multiple business books at the same time and maybe a copy of ‘The New York Times’ and those kinds of things while they’re traveling, and for that segment of the population it’s a wonderful product,” Baker continued. “For the average consumer who gets up in the morning, goes to a job, comes home at night, watches the evening news, there’s no value proposition for the Kindle with or without these enhancements.”
Jeff Bezos had additional marketing support from legendary novelist Stephen King, who came onstage to make the announcement that a new novella, Ur, would be sold exclusively on the Kindle. It is, in fact, a story about a one-of-a-kind pink Kindle with magical powers.
Amazon faces a serious challenge from Google, which has scanned some seven million books, many of them out of print. Google said last week that it would soon sell books from its publishing partners for reading on mobile devices like the iPhone from Apple and phones running Google’s Android operating system.
Let’s wait and see how consumers react to the new Kindle. Good Day.