5 Kindle 3 Competitors 2010

While the Kindle 3 is having a great run of sales there are several potentially dangerous Kindle 3 competitors set to launch this year – some in the new few weeks and some by Christmas.

Let’s take a look.

Kindle 3’s Biggest Competitor – Nook 2

The Nook 2 showed up at the FCC several weeks ago. Around the same time B&N announced that its grand strategy to fight Kindle 3 was to create small Nook stores modeled on the Apple Store design within B&N bookstores. That strategy doesn’t make sense unless there’s a new improved Nook to sell.

It seems that early in September we’ll see the Nook 2 launch in parallel with these new Nook Stores and perhaps that’ll be enough to stop the Kindle 3 from taking over the eReader market.

My money’s on Nook 2 arriving with – eInk Pearl Screen, a better version of the LendMe feature, far less bugs, better integration between LCD touchscreen and eInk screen. It would be a surprise if it had one or more of – touch screen, text to speech, accessibility. It would also be a surprise if B&N started selling it outside the US.

Kindle 3’s Touch screen Competitor – Sony 650

The rumors about the Sony 650 are much stronger since we’ve seen Sony Insider reveal a lot of details including –

  1. Touch layer that goes below eInk and thus doesn’t impede readability.
  2. Strong hints that eInk Pearl is involved.
  3. The new Sony Reader 650 is supposed to be very thin (less than 10 mm) and very compact.
  4. It’s supposed to have WiFi and there are even a few rumors of 3G connectivity.
  5. There’s talk of a new user interface and a few people have suggested Android is involved.

If Sony 650 can pull all this off then its existing strengths (library books, ePub, compactness, good looks, touch) will combine with new strengths (better readability, eInk Pearl screen, WiFi, better user interface) to make a very impressive eReader.

Sony’s store and infrastructure will still be lacking but it might have a surprise trump card there as Google Editions is supposed to launch soon (rumors say October) and might be integrated into Sony 650.

Big in Russia Competitor – Pocketbook

At MobileRead they’ve found images of the new generation of PocketBook eReaders. It seems there are five versions –

  1. Pocketbook 602 which has a Kindle 2 style aluminium back,  speakers at the bottom, page turn buttons on one side, and a circular navigator/5-way.
  2. Pocketbook Pro 603 which has 3G, comes with a stylus which indicates a touch screen and possible handwriting support, and looks pretty similar to the 602.
  3. Pocketbook 902 which is a 10″ screen version of the 602.
  4. Pocketbook Pro 903 which seems to be a 10″ version of the 603.
  5. Pocketbook IQ which looks a lot like an iPad and has a TFT color screen. It’s probably the best looking of the bunch.  

These are all being made by FoxConn which also manufactures Kindle 3, iPad, Nook, and iPhone.

Here are some very interesting details courtesy IgorSK –

  • The software for the 902, 903, 602, and 603 models is based on Linux and is Open Source. The Pocketbook IQ runs Android 2.0.
  • There’s text to speech with 4 languages pre-installed and another 28 possible. 
  • There’s an accelerometer. 
  • It supports ePub and PDF with DRM and 14 other formats. 
  • Dictionaries for 20 languages.
  • Support for adding notes.
  • Folders with sub-Folders.
  • There might be PC apps to support the eReaders. Perhaps they mean something like Kindle for PC.
  • All models have 2 GB memory.
  • All models have WiFi while two (603 and 903) also have 3G.
  • The 603 and 903 have Wacom touchscreens.

It’s interesting that they’ve made it so that absolutely any apps or software can be installed on top of the existing OS. There’s also a comment saying that Pocketbook is selling over 50,000 eReaders a month and that it’s the leading eReader in Russia.

The models are supposed to be available in November 2010. There are some comments at Mobile Read that Pocketbook doesn’t support ePub and PDF well and that there are often text formatting errors.

In terms of price the claim is that prices might be 450 Euro for the Pocketbook 903, 400 Euro for the Pocketbook 902, and under 300 Euro for the Pocket book 603. That’s way more expensive than Kindle 3 and Kindle DX 2.

Lots of complaints on the supposed prices and, in my opinion, if those really are the prices it kills the PocketBook’s chances of doing damage in the US eReader market.

‘It’ll arrive some day’ Competitor – the mythical Android Tablet

Not exactly an eReader but considered a Kindle 3 rival nonetheless.

The great hope was Adam which would use the magical Pixel Qi screen with Android. Supporting Flash seems to have killed Adam’s chances of arriving early and perhaps Apple really is right about Flash not being worth the trouble.  

A seemingly endless number of Android Tablets have been announced but none have seemed to materialize.

  1. Will there be any by Christmas? Probably.
  2. Will any of those be really good? Unlikely.
  3. Will any threaten the Kindle 3? Not really.

All in all the Android Tablet is a very interesting threat – It’s the perfect competitor in that it forces you to improve and be wary and prepared and then it never shows up.

Very good Android Tablets are probably not going to arrive until early 2011. It’s possible that Kindle for Android becomes the reading app of choice for Android Tablets though Google Editions will be a major threat.

Flexible, color screen ‘sounds too good to be true’ competitors powered by LG Display

LG Display has been talking about having color eReader screens and flexible eReader screens for so long it’s threatening to take over Plastic Logic’s title of ‘Under-deliverer of the Year’. Now it’s saying that it has 9.7″ color eReader screens arriving by end 2010 and that there will also be 19″ flexible eReader screens.

Let’s get this straight – They can’t deliver a 6″ color or 6″ flexible screen but want to deliver a 9.7″ color screen and a 19″ flexible screen. That sounds a lot like Plastic Logic’s ‘We’re going to make a $649 business eReader’ strategy.

If you have a millions of eReaders a year market for 6″ screen eReaders (perhaps tens of millions of eReaders a year by 2011) and an unknown market for 19″ screen eReaders why would you concentrate on the latter? Have they even tested what carrying around a 19″ screen eReader feels like? Is it flexible enough to bend like a newspaper?

The Role of Google Editions

Google Editions constantly lurks in the background. Google’s partnerships with Sony and B&N mean that both Nook 2 and Sony 650 will probably end up with Android Operating systems and direct connections to Google Editions by end of 2010.

It will make for a really interesting contest –

  1. Amazon Customer Service + Trust  Vs B&N plus Google trust and B&N customer service.
  2. Kindle Store vs Google Editions plus B&N ebook store.
  3. Kindle infrastructure vs Perhaps Google Cloud.
  4. Kindle 3 vs Nook 2, Sony 650.
  5. Kindle App Store (perhaps) vs Android App Store.
  6. Kindle’s own OS vs Android.
  7. Amazon.com shopping traffic vs Google.com search traffic.  

At a time when Kindle 3 looks unbeatable it’s interesting that the biggest competitor might not be another eReader but Google. Nook 2 and Sony 650 are unlikely to be impressive enough to both beat Kindle 3 and overcome Amazon’s store and infrastructure advantage – However, Google and Google Editions might be effective counters to Kindle Store and WhisperNet and it would turn the 2010 holiday season into a 2-way or 3-way contest.

The Kindle 3 will see some really solid competition soon and its biggest competitor is going to be Google.

9 kindle book free offers on college books

Courtesy Joyce we get 9 more free kindle books. These are all college reference books –

  1. Sharp Vocab: Building Better Vocabulary Skills. It’s a bit worrying they’d use ‘Vocab’ in the title of a book teaching vocabulary. Anyways, it’s rated 5 stars on 1 review.

    A 12-question diagnostic quiz to show readers where they need the most help.
    A variety of practice exercises with detailed answer explanations for every topic.
    A 30-question recognition and recall practice set that includes material from the entire chapter, (and a few questions that cover material from the previous chapters) to once again reinforce what the reader has learned on a larger scale.

  2. Sharp Writing: Building Better Writing Skills. Shouldn’t this be named ‘Sharp Writ’ if we’re going with the willy-nilly cutting words down to size rule.

    Sharp Writing is a compact guide with all the information you need to increase your grasp of language and boost your writing skills using Kaplan’s easy-to-follow Building Block Method

  3. Kaplan Portable GMAT.

    Essential information about the test structure and scoring
    Exclusive score-raising tips and strategies
    Focused practice for each components of the test
    Targeted review of each question type

  4. Kaplan PMBR Finals: Constitutional Law Core Concepts and Key Questions. Rated 4.5 stars on 2 reviews.

    Kaplan PMBR combines the unparalleled experience of the world test prep leader with the expertise of the #1 Multistate Bar Exam review company to provide industry-leading, focused preparation. Featuring outstanding materials and a student-focused approach, Kaplan PMBR helps guide students through each class, midterm, and final exam throughout law school.

  5. Kaplan PMBR: Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). Two undecipherable acronyms in one title – Wow!

    Substantive outlines
    Model Rules of Professional Responsibility
    Model Code of Judicial Conduct
    ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility
    Practice questions with detailed answer explanations

  6. Kaplan SAT Score-Raising Dictionary. Rated 5 stars on 5 reviews.

    1,000 frequently tested SAT words, including their definition, pronunciation and part of speech
    Helpful sentences to illustrate the proper use of each word
    Catchy mnemonic devices that help make words memorable
    Lots of fun illustrations throughout

  7. Kaplan Portable GRE Exam.

    Kaplan Portable GRE Exam features:

    Essential information about the test structure and scoring
    Exclusive score-raising tips and strategies
    Focused practice for each components of the test
    Targeted review of each question type

  8. Kaplan ACT Strategies for Super Busy Students. This one is rated 4 stars on 2 reviews and covers 15 simple steps to tackle the ACT. 

    Kaplan’s exclusive, time-saving strategies
    1 Full-length practice test with complete answer explanations
    Targeted review and realistic practice for the Math, English, Reading, and Science sections of the ACT
    Preparation for the optional writing component
    Stress management tips

  9. Kaplan CCRN: Certification for Adult, Pediatric, and Neonatal Critical Care Nurses.

    An in-depth look at all topics covered on the exam, from Cardiovascular to Renal to Gastroenterology and more
    Two full-length practice tests—one in the book, one online
    Detailed answer explanations
    Tips on tackling the computer-based test format
    Complete review of Professional Caring and Ethical Practice in the Synergy Model

That makes it 8+2+9 equal to 19 free books in 2 days.

Tuesday Morning 2 kindle free books, Kindle 3 crashes + freezing

We have two free kindle books this morning courtesy Happy Reader “Joyce” –

  1. Bake Sale Murder by Leslie Meier. It’s rated 4.5 stars on 10 reviews.

    In Meier’s disjointed 13th Lucy Stone mystery (after 2005’s New Year’s Eve Murder), the Tinker’s Cove, Maine, newspaper reporter has a whole subdivision of peculiar neighbors around her once peaceful farmhouse, and anonymous letters are arriving at her office.

    The unknown penman alleges that the new football coach, Buck Burkhart, is condoning unsavory behavior by the high school’s senior football players toward the junior players and the cheerleaders, one of whom is Lucy’s daughter, Sara.

  2. Demonfire by Kate Douglas. Seems to be a mix of romance, adventure, and the paranormal.

    Eddy is a no-nonsense reporter who leaves stories of alien races to her father and scoffs at such notions as the town statue coming to life. Until said statue attacks her home.

    According tothe mysterious Dax, demons are crossing over to Earth, determined to disrupt the balance between it, Abyss, and Eden, and to destroy them all. Eddy and Dax know they can’t stop this catastrophe on their own, and luckily for them, alien races aren’t merely the stuff of fairy tales after all.

6 books on Monday and 2 today – quite nice.

Modifying my Kindle 3 Review with the caveat of Freezing

One of the things no Kindle reviewer seems to have picked up on is the fact that the Kindle 3, for some people including me, freezes more than the Kindle 2 does.

Not quite sure how to describe it but there’s a freezing/crashing problem with the Kindle 3. It’s not common enough or frequent enough (if your Kindle 3 has it) to be a deal breaker but it’s noticeable enough to be a bother.

Updated my Kindle 3 Review to include a reference to the sporadic freezing.

Here are a few of the situations that lead to freezing or a crash/restart (also including a bug in there that might be related) –

  1. Certain websites, especially complex ones, lead to a crash or freezing (freezing usually). This is somewhat rare.  
  2. Certain websites lead to the url bar being left behind as an artifact on the screen – you can see it on the Kindle home page. This is pretty rare.
  3. PDF files sometimes freeze the Kindle 3. Am also getting this strange bug where any PDF crashes the Kindle 3. Have only heard of one other case of it so it’s probably an edge case bug picked up due to opening up all types of PDFs and testing them. 
  4. There have been days when it didn’t crash (mostly days focused on reading) and days when it crashed multiple times (mostly testing days focused on browser and PDFs). 
  5. It crashed once when testing photos for manga on Kindle 3. There’s one menu item that is clickable though there’s nothing there and either that or all the changing of options caused the crash.  

It’s enough days and haven’t loaded very many books on to the review unit so am reasonably confident this is not a ‘first few days’ bug or indexing bug and is in fact a software error (perhaps related to WiFi or to handling very complex tasks) that needs to be fixed in the next update.

Here’s a thread at the official kindle forum trying to figure out what the culprit for Kindle 3 crashes is. Well, it’s releasing a ton of great features in one release which guarantees there will be some issues. It’s the nature of software and as long as Amazon fixes it in the next upgrade it’s not a deal killer or even a big negative.

Note: Most of the crashes have happened when testing out really complex websites and strange PDFs. There also seems to be a thread of using WiFi though some people are seeing crashes on 3G too. So you might not run into the freezing/crashes – However, do let us know if you’re seeing crashes too so we can ascertain whether this is a common complaint.

It’s not like the freezing on the Nook (which was more frequent and was accompanied by bugs and sluggishness) – However, it’s big enough to warrant a downgrade in my Kindle 3 review score from 8.9/10 to 8.7/10. If it’s not fixed in the next release would probably drop the review score down to 8.5 because it really should be a Priority Zero fix. Kindle 2 didn’t see crashes/freezing and Kindle 3 shouldn’t either.