Kindle 3, Sony Reader 606, and thoughts

Since there’s absolutely no interesting news and World Cup games are played in the morning it’s time to wonder aimlessly about the Kindle 3.

Kindle 3 may be arriving soon

The price drop of the Kindle 2 to $259 was just too smooth. We might all like to believe that Amazon are so fluid and responsive that they drop the Kindle’s price down to $189 mere hours after B&N announce their pricing surprise. However, that’s really hard to explain rationally.

You mean to tell me Amazon managed Kindle at $189, refurbished Kindle at $169, and refurbished Kindle 2 US at $139 in just a few hours. Amazon hadn’t been selling refurbished Kindles for a long time and then suddenly, at exactly the same time that B&N introduced the Nook Lite and cut the price on the Nook, Amazon got everything ready to ship in a few hours.   

It seems that either B&N didn’t hide their plans well enough or that Amazon were preparing for a Kindle 2 price cut independently of the release of the Nook WiFi. This makes a lot of sense if you consider that PVI/eInk has had a few things go its way and should be achieving better economies of scale – partnership with LG Display (the second biggest LCD maker in the world), sales to Amazon and B&N and Sony, lots of new customers for eInk. Perhaps PVI managed to cut prices on the display and both B&N and Kindle were planning to cut prices on their eReaders.

How does this tie-in with Kindle 3?

Well, the other factor that might be causing all the low prices is the arrival of the Kindle 3. Amazon tend to cut the price of the existing Kindle a month or two before a newer Kindle model is about to come out (based on a grand sample of 1). Add on a month or two from now (to avoid incurring too many returns) and you get a possible Kindle 3 release date - the end of July 2010 or sometime in August.

It’s almost as if Amazon were preparing to cut the price of the Kindle 2 and B&N gave them a good cover for the real reason behind the price-cut.

What could Sony be planning for their new Sony Readers?

Sony have already incorporated Touch into their Reader line. What will they be trying with their new Sony Reader 606?

My money’s on – wireless+WiFi, collaboration with Google Editions, cheap price point (well, they don’t really have an option), focus on international support, and Android.

We’ll probably see Sony concentrate much more on selling their Sony Readers all over the world. In the US they have a really tough time getting press coverage and have begun to lose the attention of potential eReader buyers. They might try a sales blitz to counter that. However, they’re stuck because they only focus on the device.

Basically, Sony want to sell people a device and then let them figure out everything else. That’s exactly what readers don’t want – Readers want everything already sorted out.

How soon could B&N release a Nook 2?

B&N showed us last year that they aren’t scared of rushing a product to market. Let’s say one or both of Kindle 3 and Sony Reader 606 debut in July/August. Suddenly we have the Nook competing with the third generation of eReaders. They’d have to do something drastic to compete.

Perhaps it’ll be price. Perhaps it’ll be rushing Nook 2. Perhaps it’s another gift card or another software update. Whatever it is, it’s going to be very interesting to see. B&N always seem to mis-time their moves. By playing the price card early they have left themselves vulnerable to the third generations of the Kindle and the Sony Reader.

Plastic Logic delayed, provides no release date

Plastic Logic could have released last year and found a niche. Now they are stuck between the $500 iPad that does everything and the $189 Kindle 2 that is excellent for reading.

How in the world are they going to sell a $649 business eReader?

It seems Plastic Logic finally figured this out and decided to change their strategy. It’s super impressive that they resisted the urge to promise a date. They seem to have realized that it serves no purpose to talk up an eReader, delay it to the point that potential competitors have raced far ahead, and then release it. Thus they’ve cancelled all pre-orders and said they’re working to improve their eReader.

It’s worth wondering what role the $100 million or so they took in investment is playing – Is it their safety buffer that ensures they can handle a few crashes on their journey? Are the investors overzealous about protecting their investments and scuppering an entry into the eReader market now that there’s lots of competition? Perhaps it’s both.

Plastic Logic technology is pretty important and they have a lot of money – They aren’t going to die out. It’ll be interesting to see what their next move is.

When will Qualcomm Mirasol displays arrive and in what device?

Mirasol seems to be ruled out of Kindle 3 – Mr. Bezos keeps insisting color Kindles are not arriving anytime soon. Meanwhile, Qualcomm keeps insisting that there will be mass market products using Mirasol displays in Fall 2010.

There’s an obvious disconnect.

The perfect use of Mirasol displays is in eReaders. It’s got to be in Kindle 3 or Kindle 4 or in the newer Sony Readers or in the Nook 2. What other device could be as good of a fit?

This is one of the big unresolved mysteries of the eReader market of 2010 – What eReader will have Qualcomm’s Mirasol Displays?

Will Pixel Qi be in Kindle 4? Nook 2? Another eReader?

Pixel Qi seems to be ruled out of Kindle 3 due to still not being out. Adam was a tablet that was supposed to be the first Pixel Qi powered device and would have proven the commercial viability of Pixel Qi’s screens. However, it got delayed and further delayed and now won’t arrive until Shopping Season 2010.

Some eReader maker is going to take a chance on Pixel Qi - The technology is just too good to pass up. Which of Amazon, B&N, and Sony will it be? Perhaps a company we don’t expect is going to release a Pixel Qi powered eReader+Tablet and steal a portion of the market.

Here’s the last update from Pixel Qi -

We are in 5 tablets, a few netbooks, and are also displaying multitouch, wide-viewing angle screens, and pen-based digitizing and all combinations thereof.

Notice the lack of mention of eReaders in that list. Perhaps Pixel Qi haven’t been able to convince any eReader company to try them out. That’s a bit unlikely though – the likelier probability is that they’re not supposed to talk about it until the product launches.

Kindle 3 rumors seem to have some weight - a July/August Kindle 3 release date seems likely

There are far too many coincidences – all the rumors talk of a July to August timeframe for a Kindle 3 release, most of the rumors talk of a thinner Kindle 3 with a sharper screen, the price of the Kindle 2 has been dropped.

None of the rumors and data points are conclusive. However, all of them point to the same thing – a Kindle 3 release in July or August. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see what the next generation of Sony Readers is like and what Kindle 3 offers.

One Response

  1. I believe it’s Amazon policy – to undercut B&N’s price advanage… in mere hours after B&N anouncement…
    Two points:
    * look what happend when Nook was released for the first time… how quickly Amazon cut price of the Kindle…
    * look at press/media coverage of the price race… Almost nobody is sure who dropped the price first, it could have been Amazon… the only mesage that comes out is: Amazon and B&N are at price war/race… to $0 for a ereader…
    As in every buisness you have to be prepared for competitors movements… like in chess…. Amazon is simply excelent in this…

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