Kindle Color – How soon will Amazon release Kindle Color?

The Kindle finds its market dominance in reading devices threatened by the Nook Color.

Hard core readers might not be tempted by a ‘Reading Tablet’, but casual readers certainly are. Kindle has also faced the iPad onslaught. For better or worse, the Press has managed to create the misconception that eInk has no advantages over LCDs.

On top of that, the Nook Color has come in at $250 and is a reasonable size. It’s done what the iPad couldn’t i.e. reduce the comparison to ‘eInk vs doing more than just reading’.

At some point Reality makes itself felt

After a few weeks with the Nook Color, and after reading at least a dozen effusive reviews, it’s clear that the Nook Color is going to eat up a LOT of the eReader market. Everyone from TeleRead to the main stream press are smitten by Nook Color.

Forget all the other benefits, and just consider surfing the Net – color, a touchscreen, a 7″ screen. That’s one big benefit the Nook Color has over eInk eReaders.

Then consider what happens if people look at the devices side by side – Most of the Kindle’s benefits are things that only become evident after a few days of use. Things like the ease of reading, the lack of distractions, the joy of eInk, the great battery life.

In the 15 to 30 minutes people have in the store, the Nook Color is going to blow away people. It’s a color IPS LCD screen that’s much better than the iPad’s screen. It’s half the price of the iPad. It’s a ‘reading tablet’ with an ‘anti-glare coating’ that creates the perception that it massively bridges the gap between eInk and LCD. It doesn’t, but customers can’t tell that in 15 minutes.

Regardless of what Amazon might think of Nook Color – it’s a real, huge threat. Sooner or later, people are going to realize it’s a really, really good option for anyone who reads one or fewer books a month.

Add on Nook App Store Apps

The one big thing missing from Nook Color are apps. Once it gets decent apps, it’ll fully utilize its advantages (multi-purposeness, touch, color), and match up extremely well against iPad and Kindle.

It might even find a few killer apps that push it ahead. It’s based on Android, so there’s potentially a huge developer base. If B&N plays its cards right, it’ll have thousands of developers working to make the Nook Color better – for the promise of future earnings from apps.

The big danger Nook apps pose is that they might get even the 2-books-a-month people to choose Nook Color over Kindle.

Reality is that Nook Color will eat up market share, and might keep getting better

There are a few big problems the Nook Color creates for the Kindle -

  1. Nook Color does ‘more than just read’ while keeping the price within striking distance of Kindle. The Press has eroded eInk’s perceived value, so it’s enough for B&N to say Nook Color is ‘focused on reading’.
  2. Nook Color is very good.
  3. Nook Color might get much better if B&N runs the Nook App Store well.
  4. Nook Color gets library books and ePub.
  5. eInk doesn’t have color, and might not for a while.

If you’re Amazon, you might be thinking there’s no way a color LCD tablet steals away readers. However, it will. And it’ll keep increasing how many readers it steals – because it’s much more impressive in person.

If you hear from me – Now throwing away my iPhone and iPad are an option. It doesn’t really register.

Then you try reading in bed with the Nook Color, and contrast it with your current best option – It’s much better. Kindle might be better, with the magical cover with built-in reading light – but that’s $60 on top of the $189 of the Kindle 3.

This ‘Reading Tablet’ will damage eReader sales

We still don’t have word of mouth kicking in properly. We still don’t have apps that add additional value. We still have a fascination with the iPad. That’s going to change.

Almost every single review of the Nook Color has been glowing – as good as the iPad, best reading device, best eReader, worth buying. Sooner or later, it starts registering in people’s minds.

Amazon desperately needs a Kindle Color

The combination of the magical phrase ‘Reading tablet’, and an actual solid Tablet that’s focused on reading, means that we have a device that the Kindle can’t fight against. The part of the reader market that likes Nook Color, will not want an eInk device. Additionally, the $250 price keeps the iPad at bay.

Amazon can neither compete with the Kindle, nor with Kindle for iPad. Its only option is to create and release a Kindle Color.

There are signs it might have one in the works. There are hires, such as today’s hire of Jon Rubenstein (head of the team that released iPod, former Palm CEO), that show Amazon might be working on a Kindle Color.

It can’t come soon enough.

First Mover Advantage might make Nook Color unbeatable

If Nook Color manages to -

  1. Sell 3 to 4 million Nook Colors. 
  2. Create a link in people’s minds that it’s the default ‘color eReader’ and the default ‘reading tablet’.
  3. Release a bunch of reading related apps that no other device has, or even apps that no other reading focused device has.
  4. Get word of mouth going, and hit a big growth spurt (the beaten to death hockey stick curve).
  5. Cut down the price to $175 or $200 within 6 months.

Then it’s unbeatable.

It might not seem that way – However, what company in the recent past has been able to dethrone an incumbent?

It’s infinitely difficult. 

Researchers did a study and found that if the #2 product in a market does a lot of advertising, the sales of the #1 product increase more than that of #2. If people start thinking ‘Reading Tablet = Nook Color’ then anything Amazon does to advertise Kindle Color will increase Nook Color sales.

The 6 month to 9 month Window of Opportunity

There are two things Amazon has to hope don’t happen before it launches Kindle Color -

  • That Nook Color becomes the default ‘Reading Tablet’.
  • That the Nook App Store takes off, and developers start making money.

If it can release a Kindle Color in 3 to 6 months, it might avoid both. If it can release a Kindle Color in 6 to 9 months, it might avoid one of the two.

If Amazon doesn’t have an answer for Nook Color within 9 months, then it’s Game Over in the Reading Tablet market.

The obvious question is – We know what Amazon ought to do, but what what will it actually do?

How soon will Amazon release Kindle Color?

There are three broad possibilities -

  1. Amazon has a Kindle Color, or a Kindle Tablet, in the works, and it’s coming out within the next 6 to 9 months. This would be great, and give it a very good shot at beating Nook Color.
  2. Amazon recently started developing a Kindle Color – It’ll have something out within a year or so. This isn’t good enough – It should instead focus on buying B&N, because if there isn’t a Kindle Color out soon, B&N will rule the Reading Tablet market for a long, long time.
  3. Amazon is going with a Color eInk based eReader. Well, unless the price is $250 or less, it’s not going to work. There’s no way color eInk eReaders are going to be $200.

A February 2011 release of a Kindle Color would make sense. It’s possible Amazon won’t have anything ready by then. With every month that passes after February 2011, Amazon is reducing its chances of catching up with Nook Color.

It’s the strangest thing – At the end of 2010, Year of eReaders vs Tablets, the most dangerous device is a Reading Tablet. In a showdown of Amazon, Google, and Apple – an almost-insolvent B&N has created the most innovative reading device.

12 Responses

  1. One other thing about the Nook color is that B&N has been using it to position themselves into an area which Amazon has not- children’s book, specifically picture books (the “NOOK kids” section).

    Admittedly, I’m not totally sure who the market there is (i.e., do I really want to give a first grader a nook), but it is clearly a segment which Amazon has not addressed. I can only assume that this means either Amazon does not see it as a viable market or will soon have thier own solution, such as a Kindle Color.

  2. Amazon may not have as much to worry about as you think.

    You cannot purchase books for the Nook outside of the united states, a fact that they do not popularise on their website.

    “Yes, when you travel abroad, you can read any files that are already on your nook. You can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots that do not use proxy security settings, such those commonly used in hotels, and download eBooks and subscriptions already in your online digital Library. You cannot, however, purchase additional eBooks and subscriptions.”

    Amazon sells Kindle books internationally, and so has access to a far, far wider market than Barnes and Noble.

    Amazon and others are slowly realising that the international market is larger than the US market for this type of content.

    slowly. lol :)

  3. I know that I would love it if Amazon would release such a device. I’m sorely tempted to buy a nookColor even thought I love my Kindle3.

  4. I like the eink if its eink in color than yes if its just an LCD screen then no.
    I like that if I have eye strain when reading my computer just rush to the kindle.
    It would be nice if there were more children’s picture books even black and white ones on kindle.

  5. “It might not seem that way – However, what company in the recent past has been able to dethrone an incumbent?”

    What mobile phone is in your pocket? Nokia used to dominate dumb phones, Blackberry dominated email reading corporate types, and Windows Mobile had a pretty large market share as well. If you just pulled out an Android or iPhone, you have your answer.

    Also, parents WILL use the device for children’s books. I know of half a dozen iPad owners (myself included) who let kids as young as 2-3 years old play with the self-reading books, color in an app, etc. And yes, we all cringe at the thought of a drop… but kids do too well with it.

    As an aside, reading newspapers, magazines and having Pandora are already three things beyond reading a book that the Nook Color does fantastically well, and should have Amazon taking notice.

    I just wish I didn’t have to get on a plane, and fly to a country where it was legal to dedrm my books, move them to the nook, and then return back to the states.

    • Use Kobo. It works for Nook Color.

      You might state a few examples – However, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy or even possible to dethrone incumbents.

      iPhone is Steve Jobs’ biggest success and there aren’t very many SJ clones around.

  6. Kobo is awesome, but in this case I wanted to read Kindle books on the nook, so the plane flight would be necessary.

    There are other examples. What car do you drive? Chances are, it’s not an American sedan, as the Japanese two (Honda, Toyota) overthrew the American three (Ford, GM and Chevy).

    You are right, in that it’s not easy to dethrone a market leader. But it can happen, and it’s generally bad management or complacency that opens the door. Amazon has fantastic management, but complacency must be watched for constantly… it kind of creeps up on companies sometimes.

  7. I love my Kindle 3, and for me the 800 lb gorilla is always going to be the difference in battery life — 8 hours vs 30 days. But most people are already used to regularly recharging their smart phones and iPods, so that’s going to cut the gorilla down to tiny monkey size for an awful lot of folks. B&N can steal the market while Amazon ponders…

  8. My (wholly uneducated) guess would be February.

    And I may buy one if it comes in close to the Nook’s price. It will not substitute for my Kindle, which I think is the better reading device. Battery life on LCD does not cut it. However, a bedside device for night reading/early morning check of e-mail/calendar, etc. might work well.

  9. Scott Lewis said:
    “Amazon has fantastic management, but complacency must be watched for constantly… it kind of creeps up on companies sometimes.”

    Amazon’s management didn’t hire enough programmers to make the Kindle “insanely great,” with few missing features. (E.g., multi-level folders, user screen-savers, an adequate MP3 player, and dozens more mentioned on this site within the last month.) It may have had an “adequacy-is-sufficient” mindset, or one that thought that only the BIG features count in moving the market, and that the bells and whistles can go hang.

    But it is these extras and the willingness to go the extra mile that turn merely satisfied users into evangelical word-of-mouth fanatics. That’s how Apple turned the tide toward the Mac. That’s what Amazon would benefit from now: if it had a hundred thousand tech-savvy users endlessly extolling the scores of “Cadillac” features of the Kindle and saying they outweigh the attractions of the Color Nook.

    Nothing succeeds like excess. A better-than-adequate Kindle 4, plus an upscale $300 mid-size Kindle, would compete “diagonally” and cost-effectively with the Color Nook, and would attract the most desirable set of buyers (serious readers). The last thing Amazon should do is pull its developers off upgrading those models and onto a color product.

  10. Another thing: Nook Color Makes an Affordable Tablet even now.

    Simply Root it or use the Android Card-Loading method called “Nookie Froyo”, and you have yourself a Quite Functional and Bargain Priced Tablet.

    Also just to tell you it’s now Near Idiot-Proof to Root the Nook Color. You simply have to Download a File and Copy it to a MicroSD Card. Then simply Turn On your Nook Color and it Takes it from their. It automatically Enables Android Market and Google Apps as well as several other Things. All without you having to do Squat.

    If you ever have to return your Nook Color you can easily Flash back to Factory Settings and remove all Traces of the Root. Or if you were using Nookie Froyo, Just take out the MicroSD Card and it’s safe since Nookie Froyo Never Touches the Nook Colors Internal Memory. Please Note that the Nookie Froyo method does require some Technical Know-How and it currently doesn’t support Hardware Decoding of Media(Meaning can’t use Youtube App, Flash runs fine though).

    For More Details Check out the NookDevs Nook Color Portal:
    [Link removed due to legal considerations - do a search]

    I’m running Android 2.2 using the Nookie Froyo method and am having a Great Time. I even have Angry Birds on it!

    PS: I’m Currently Reading a Book with the Kindle App :-D LOL

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