Kindle WiFi – Kindle 3 WiFi for $139

Update: Kindle WiFi is now available for $139 at Amazon.

The big news this week is from Engadget. They managed to leak a screenshot from Amazon that shows a list of Kindle models (more below) with the ones related to Kindle 3 supposed to be –

  1. Shasta
  2. Shasta WiFi 

Engadget are saying that Shasta is the codename for the rumored thinner, faster, better screen contrast Kindle 3 and that Shasta WiFi indicates that there will be a Kindle 3 WiFi version.

Well, let’s take a look at the Kindle codenames and see what we can ferret out.

Kindle 3 internal codename, Kindle WiFi revealed by Engadget

Here are the Kindle 3 and Kindle related codenames Engadget has shown in their screenshot and what each probably corresponds to –

  1. Shasta – Kindle 3 is rumored to be codenamed Shasta.
  2. Shasta WiFi – This is supposed to mean that there’s either a Kindle WiFi model or a WiFi variant of Kindle 3. 
  3. Dummy Device.
  4. Lassen (iPad) – Kindle for iPad.
  5. Lassen (iPhone) – Kindle for iPhone. Note that its all one app which works across iPod, iPhone, and iPad and that would explain them sharing the same name – makes even more sense when you consider Lassen is a National Park full of Volcanoes.
  6. Lassen (iPod) – Kindle for iPhone.
  7. Redding (Android) – Probably Kindle for Android.
  8. Mazama PC – Probably Kindle for PC.
  9. Mazama Mac – If the previous guess is correct this has to be Kindle for Mac.
  10. Kindle Simulator (Turing) – The Kindle Simulator that comes with the Kindle Development Kit. Since the Simulator works for PC, Mac, and Linux there should be three variants – there are actually 4.
  11. Kindle Simulator (Nell) – One of the three variants.
  12. Kindle Simulator (Platform) – The third variant.
  13. Kindle Simulator (Turing WW) – Not sure what WW stands for. Perhaps it means worldwide. Perhaps not.  
  14. Turing WW – No idea what this is. However, the fact that there is one corresponding to the Simulator and one without WW hints this might be something related to Windows or Worldwide. Update: This is the codename for the hardware of Kindle 2. The codename for the software of Kindle 2 is/was Mario.
  15. Nell WW – Again, no idea what this is. Might be the codename for the hardware of Kindle DX.
  16. Miranda – Reminds me of Dragonfly and Serenity. It probably has to do with The Diamond Age. 
  17. Klamath – Not sure.
  18. Audible (iPhone) – Is this an Audible app for the iPhone?
  19. Audible (Android) – Probably an Audible app for Android.

The first Kindle was codenamed Fiona.

Almost as interesting as Shasta being Kindle 3 and Shasta WiFi being a Kindle WiFi are –

  • Audible (iPhone) and Audible (Android).
  • Klamath and Miranda.
  • The WW appended to some of the codenames.

Well, let’s dig a little deeper into what these names might mean.

Kindle 3, Kindle codenames – The Diamond Age or a Drive from Cupertino to Seattle?

Shasta reminded me of Mount Shasta – on road trips from Seattle to San Francisco you can always see it (it’s in Northern California) and if you’re lucky you’ll see it when its summit is covered by clouds.

According to Engadget comments Shasta, Lassen, and Mazama are all volcanoes and Klamath could refer to a lot of things including Klamath Falls, Oregon.

What’s the possibility that Lab 16 engineers driving back and forth (or flying back and forth) between Cupertino (where Lab 126 is) and Seattle decided to name all their releases according to landmarks on the route?

Here’s a Google Maps outline of some of the codenames – Cupertino to Miranda to Redding to Shasta to Klamath to Seattle. Mazama is a drive in Klamath Falls and Lassen is a volcanic Park close to the route (close to Redding and Shasta). Also the route makes a lot of sense as you can drive along Highway 1 between Cupertino and Miranda.

What about Nell and Turing?

Well, there’s The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson which had the main character, Nell, solving Turing machines and Miranda was an actor who becomes a mother figure for Nell. It also ties these to Fiona, the codename for the first Kindle, as Fiona is a character in the book who’s exiled and the daughter of John Percival Hacksworth, the second main character in the novel.

Kindle WiFi would almost certainly be a cheaper Kindle

There are two possibilities for Shasta WiFi if it indeed represents a Kindle WiFi (or a Kindle 3 WiFi variant) –

  1. A cheaper WiFi model. 
  2. A model that has 3G and WiFi.

Heelo at Engadget points out the aims each of these might have –

WiFi+3G: Will be slightly more expensive (relative to the non-wifi version) and aimed at customers who lack 3g coverage.

WiFi only: Will be slightly cheaper (relative to the 3G version) and aimed at getting costs as low as possible.

Quite frankly, the rationale for having a cheaper WiFi Kindle is much stronger than tagging on WiFi to a 3G model that is already working well. The 3G radio in the Kindle is supposed to cost $50 to $60 – to the best of my knowledge. That would indicate pretty significant cost savings and a Kindle WiFi might come in as cheap as $199 (perhaps even at $149).

The other strong motivation for releasing a Kindle WiFi would be to take on the Kobo eReader ($149), the forthcoming Nook Lite, and the Sony Reader Pocket Edition ($169).

It’d be good to get a cheaper Kindle WiFi

Well, there are quite a few people who are waiting for Kindle prices to fall. Meanwhile most Kindle owners don’t really want to lose the 3G functionality and all the Kindle 2 features 3G enables like WhisperSync. Releasing a Kindle 3 to cater to the latter and a Kindle WiFi (probably Kindle 3 WiFi variant) to cater to the former makes a lot of sense.

The manner of the recent set of leaks – Bloomberg talking about a Kindle 3 that is thinner and lighter, CrunchGear with a leaked photo of a supposed black Kindle 3 (or Kindle DX 2), Engadget with codenames that indicate a WiFi model – hint at a well planned campaign to gradually stir up interest in the Kindle. Amazon has got to be looking at how Apple get so much free publicity and they’re learning quickly.

Hopefully all this means that we do get a Kindle 3 and a Kindle WiFi soon and perhaps they both share some great new features that make the long Kindle 3 wait worthwhile.

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