As if the news of the $139 Kindle 3G with Special Offers wasn’t enough, we now get news that Amazon might have a Kindle 4 Release Date of October 2011.
Thanks to some intrepid investigative journalism by the Wall Street Journal (or perhaps due to a planned leak by Amazon’s ultra-efficient and effective PR team) we find out the following –
- Amazon has an iPad competitor lined up for an October release (it has a 9″ screen – which of course means it sucks compared to the iPad 3 with its 10″ RetinaPlus screen that shows things in 3D even when they are 1D and has a magical 23% extra screen real estate so you can see the tears fall on your daughter’s shirt when you tell her how much Facetime means to you). At this point the Kindle Tablet is such a given that WSJ’s only contribution is furnishing a release date.
- Amazon has two Kindles lined up for an October release. These are rumored to ship around the same time as the Kindle Tablet – which would suggest a Kindle 4 Release Date of October 2011. Quite plausible.
- Kindle 4 Touch will be an improved and updated Kindle 3 with a touchscreen. It is rumored to be aimed squarely at Nook 2 and Kobo Touch.
- Kindle 4 Value (you know Amazon is never going to pick a name that short) will also be an updated and improved Kindle 3 but with no touch screen and a new, low price. It is probably aimed at people who think paying more than $99 for a device dedicated to reading is a terrible, terrible travesty.
- The rumors also suggest (and hopefully they are wrong in this case) that the screen technology will still be eInk Pearl.
Given Amazon’s amazing ability to release leaks at the most appropriate times, and through the most well-established newspapers and magazines, it’s highly unlikely that this information was gleaned by hacking through discarded hard drives or other investigative means. It seems to be part of a well planned offensive to take on Kobo Touch and Nook 2.
In fact, what’s the probability that this scoop would arrive on the EXACT SAME DAY as the $139 Kindle 3G with AT&T blessings?
Update: Rough guesses for what Amazon is going to name the two new Kindle 4 versions –
Kindle 4 Touch – Super-Newest Kindle with magical eInk Pearl screen and UltraTouch touch capability with free 3G sponsored by AT&T with super special get-paid offers (Global Wireless).
Kindle 4 Value – So Cheap It Makes Us Cry To Sell It Kindle with blissful eInk Pearl screen and revolutionary $99 pricing and Security-Enhanced WiFi (which is not the same as 3G but does pretty much the same thing).
Kindle 4 Release Date of October 2011 – Is it likely?
Actually, yes. It would be 1 year and 3 months since the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi launched. It would also be right in time for Holiday Season 2011.
There are a few reasons this ‘two Kindles released in October 2011’ strategy seems very likely –
- Amazon was probably waiting for new screen technology (color eInk) and found out it wasn’t arriving in 2011. That forced it to release Kindle 4 this year with something that isn’t that big a deal (touch) to keep up with Nook 2 and Kobo Touch.
- The release of two versions of Kindle 4 seems very consistent with Amazon’s modus operandi of targeting the middle (earlier $189, now $139) and lower (currently $119, possibly $99 by October 2011) segments of the eReader market.
- Wall Street Journal doesn’t really print things unless it has a good source. In this case, for reasons stated above, it might have the best possible source.
- It makes a lot of sense. Amazon competes more effectively with 2 of its main competitors and also goes for the casual reader market (not to mention the magical price point of $99 where people magically forget it’s just $1 less than $100).
- Amazon has to release something. A Kindle Tablet to counter iPad 2/3 and Nook Color 1/2. A new Kindle 4 to counter Nook 2 and Kobo Touch. October 2011 is about a year too late – better late than never.
It just seems very plausible that a Kindle 4 Touch and a Kindle 4 Value are slated for an October 2011 release.
Kindle 4 in October 2011 – Why leak the news now?
It’s strategy similar to something Sony tried in 2009 (with limited success) – It released a Pocket Edition that was cheaper than Kindle 2 and a more expensive Touch Edition that had Touch (years before touch became a feature almost every eReader had).
Sony tried to squeeze Kindle 2 between value for money (Pocket Edition) and latest features (Touch Edition).
Amazon is now trying to do the same to Nook 2 and Kobo Touch. Kindle 3G with Special Offers attacks them on the value for money front. You can’t really fight against free global 3G (for US customers only) unless the customer just doesn’t want 3G. The Kindle 4 promises to be the ‘technologically better’ version with the latest features (which possibly help it outshine Nook 2).
The leaked news that a new, improved, shinier Kindle 4 is around the corner just ensures that people who are willing to wait a bit (or those who can’t bear to buy a device that might soon get surpassed by a competitor) will wait to see what the Kindle 4 is like. Nook 2 can’t compete with people’s wishes and imagination – so a lot of eReader purchase decisions get put on hold until October 2011.
Amazon also throws in two Kindle 4 versions – an ultra-cheap one, and one with touch and ‘improvements’. So, whether you are a person inclined to wait for a newer device, or a person looking for a sub-$99 eReader, Amazon is telling you that it’s best to wait 3 months and see what Kindle 4 Touch and Kindle 4 Value have to offer.
It’s a really interesting move. Amazon has probably taken its years and years of customer purchases data and figured out the best ways to fight against Nook 2’s evil touch (evil in Amazon’s eyes, not mine – lest Nook 2 owners get hurt).
$139 Kindle 3G and Kindle 4 Double Whammy
Consider the contrast –
Yesterday: Nook 2 was arguably the best eReader. Kobo Touch was fighting with Kindle 3 for the #2 spot. Nook 2 was also, arguably, offering the most value for money.
Today: Everything’s been blown up. $139 Kindle 3G with Special Offers is now offering the most value for money. Kindle 4 Touch (arriving by October 2011, supposedly) might be the new best eReader and what’s a wait of 3 months. Kindle 4 Value (possibly arriving in October 2011 at $99) is another contender for most value for money eReader.
In the course of one Press Release and one ‘scoop’ Amazon has ensured that Nook 2 won’t eat its lunch in the Back to School season. Amazon is likely to succeed in preventing Nook 2 from carving out a huge share of the eReader market. B&N still has time to make a big move but how do you compete against a black hole which prospective eReader owners will fill with their ideal features and wishes and dreams?