Color Kindle in 2011? Qualcomm confirms color eReader in Q1, 2011

We have the Kindle 3 and its recent release and we have Amazon’s firm insistence that a color Kindle is still a long ways away.

Yet, we also have Qualcomm confirm to Pocket Lint that a color eReader from an unknown partner will be released in Q1, 2010. It will be formally announced at CES 2011 (which is in January) -

Qualcomm has confirmed to Pocket-lint that it will launch, in connection with a partner, a device, probably an ebook reader, that features its Mirasol colour screen technology in the first quarter of 2011.

The company wouldn’t tell Pocket-lint which partner would be making the announcement, …

Well, they won’t confirm it but all the signs point to a color Kindle arriving in early 2011.

Color Kindle by Q1, 2011 – The Signs

Well, here are a few -

  1. Qualcomm recently won a major client. One so major it invested $2 billion into a Mirasol screen production plant. Apart from Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon can’t think of too many ‘major clients’ that would motivate a company to invest $2 billion into production facilities.  
  2. In January Clayton Morris of Fox pointed out this little snippet from a Qualcomm spokesman suggesting a color Kindle is in the works -

    When pressed about who its partner might be in 2010, a company spokesman asked me, “You know that device that everyone reads books on? Well, it’s going to be a game changer on a device we all know.”

    Like tens of thousands of other people, I read ebooks on a Kindle. What other eReader would someone assume I use?

  3. When Qualcomm displayed its new screens it supposedly had a ton of interest from Amazon and one of the reps claimed Qualcomm had been approached by Amazon to use the Mirasol displays. Think it was covered in the Seattle PI.

There’s also pure logic.

Color Kindle by Q1, 2011 makes a lot of sense

  • Amazon needs something to compete with Apple and its gradual takeover of digital downloads. Whether it’s a color Kindle or a Mirasol powered gaming device or a Kindle phone Amazon could really use the advantages Qualcomm’s technology would provide. 
  • PVI/eInk is doing next to nothing in terms of advancing eInk.  
  • It helps Amazon to have an option for casual readers – the type of screen that appeals more to them and their priorities. 
  • Amazon needs a device on which it can sell (and users can view) movies and TV shows and music videos.
  • It helps Amazon to have two sources for eReader screens – especially when PVI/eInk seems to constantly run out of stock. The assumption here is that a lack of enough screens is what’s causing eReaders to be sold out so often.

There’s anecdotal evidence (although mostly from Qualcomm representatives), there’s Qualcomm’s $2 billion investment, and there’s Amazon strong motivation to build Mirasol powered Kindles and Kindle Phones and Kindle Gaming Devices.

It all adds up to a pretty strong possibility a color Kindle will arrive by early 2011.

Reasons we might not see a color Kindle in 2011

There are also a few reasons we might not see a color Kindle anytime in 2011 -

  1. Mr. Jeff Bezos has said that color Kindles are years away.  
  2. We don’t even have a touch Kindle yet. Neither do we have any flexible screen Kindles. Can we really expect color Kindles?
  3. Amazon has so far remained firmly committed to PVI/eInk and its glacial speed of evolution.
  4. Color doesn’t really add that much for the core Kindle audience. There are probably more people interested in ePub and in enabling speech to text and in adding handwriting recognition.
  5. With Mirasol’s support for color and video there’s a high chance the ‘Mirasol color screen device’ debuting at CES is a multi-purpose device and not a dedicated reading device.

The last point brings up an interesting possibility – Is Amazon building a gaming device using Qualcomm’s Mirasol displays?

That would certainly explain all the recent Xbox executive hiring and the rumors from earlier in 2010 that Amazon was approaching big gaming companies. It would also be the perfect fit – a gaming device that lasts two weeks on a single charge might blow away the competition.

Isn’t Q1, 2011 too early for a color Kindle or a color Kindle Phone?

Well, not really. Apple will have the iPad 2 out by end 2010 or early 2011 at the latest. Thanks to strong iPad sales Apple will be able to price iPad 2 much lower and if the rumors are true it’ll be targeting reading a lot more.

Amazon needs something to compete and it can’t wait another 1.5 years (like it did with Kindle 3) to release a strong Kindle 4. What better than a color screen Kindle 4 (or a Kindle Phone) to compete with iPad 2?

A color Kindle (perhaps a color Kindle 4, perhaps a Kindle phone) is becoming a very strong possibility. A debut in early 2011 would make for some exciting times plus a color Kindle 4 would slot in very well alongside Kindle 3. There’s a huge gap between the $189 Kindle 3 and the $379 Kindle DX 2 and it seems Amazon might have a $250 to $299 color Kindle slated to fit in there.

10 Responses

  1. I wonder what the resolution will be on a color Kindle, will they keep the current 600×800 res? In my mind it needs to be much higher to compete with an iPad 2 because the iPad2 will likely have some derivative of the Retina screen found on the iPhone 4s which looks awesome from what I have seen of it. If the next gen iPad looks a decent amount better than the Kindle and isn’t much more expensive I would go for the iPad in a second, even though I love my Kindle.

    I would still keep my Kindle 2 for non-color books, but I would have no qualms about getting an iPad to read comics on if Kindle Color doesn’t wow me.

    • You’d keep the Kindle 2 for non-color books you say? Non-color books? Would that be a reference to 2,500 years of Western literature?

      I’d be surprised if Amazon comes out with a color reader in less than a year, but it’d be welcome anyway. Yet I can’t help but suspect it would lead to greater distractions and less reading.

      • There is a whole education market waiting. Colour is essential for that and interactivity a close second. This will spark a revolution in that arena because there will be money in it. Once students are carrying one of these, they are not going to carry a second for black & white text. Amazon has to be planning for this now.

        I expect that, like the Kindle, such a reader will specialise – designed for learning – but it will be multi-functional too and it will be difficult to avoid the distraction argument.

  2. How in the world can you say that PVI is doing nothing to advance e-ink when the Pearl screen is now widespread in the Kindle 3 after making its debut in the DX? The Pearl screens are a tremendous leap forward for eInk.

    We can’t assume they aren’t investing in and working on technologies we don’t currently see… any company has to work years in advance on anything that is truly a game changer.

    • 50% improved screen contrast in 1.5 years. It’s not very much plus they exacerbate the problem by promising a lot like flexible unbreakable screens and color eInk.

  3. I bet it will have a small screen, less than 6″. Too small.

  4. kindle wont be using mirasol display, which is sad. they’re using eink color

  5. sony could be considered a major client

  6. […] 8th, 2010 – Qualcomm confirmed that a color eReader from an unknown partner will release in Q1, 2011. It also said that a partner invested $2 billion into a Mirasol screen […]

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