Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are both going to see their successors arrive shortly.
It’s rather imperative that Kindle Fire 2 and Nook Tablet 2 are compelling devices. They already have to compete with Google Nexus 7. They might have to compete with an iPad Mini. They will have to compete with Windows Surface Tablets.
With that context in mind (i.e. Kindle Fire 2 and Nook Tablet 2 are likely to determine whether Amazon and B&N survive in the Tablet Space) let’s look at some Kindle Fire 2, Nook Tablet 2 predictions and rumors.
Kindle Fire 2 Rumors
Let’s look at all the Kindle Fire 2 Rumors that have come up and consider their likelihood of being true -
- 10″ Kindle Fire 2 not arriving on September 6th. Likelihood: High. Not sure why Amazon shied away from going up against iPad in 2011. It’s quite possible Amazon chickens out again and sticks to 7″ Tablets. Which would be a shame - the market for a low priced 10″ Tablet is very large. It also attacks iPad where it hurts.
- 7″ Kindle Fire 2 with Ads option. Likelihood: Almost Guaranteed. Amazon gets to undercut everyone on price. It’s already tested this feature extensively on eInk Kindles (where it actually makes less sense).
- Two 7″ Kindle Fire 2 models. Likelihood: High. One with Ads and one Ad-Free.
- 7.85″ or 8.5″ Kindle Fire 2 model. Likelihood: Low. This would be a very cool addition. However, the economies of scale for 8.5″ Kindle Fires might not exist yet.
- Color eInk Screen. Likelihood: Low. This would be very cool but it’s perhaps far away from being in usable shape.
- Dual Screen (Either a Folding Tablet or a Tablet with LCD on the front and eInk on the Back). Likelihood: Low to Medium. While a very striking idea, it’s worth noting than a 7″ eInk screen would cost approximately $25 to $55 (guesstimate). That’s way too much given Amazon is wedded to keeping prices low.
- Free Kindle Fire 2 with 3 Year Prime Membership OR 2 year Book Buying Agreement ($20 per month for 2 books a month). Likelihood: Medium. If offered, this would be one option out of many and there might be very strict terms.
- Kindle Fire 2 with Amazing New LCD Screen. Likelihood: Low. Nook Tablet 2 is far more likely to use a new screen technology.
- International Release. Likelihood: Almost Guaranteed. Amazon App Store has been expanded to lots of European countries. It seems almost guaranteed that Kindle Fire 2 will be available in lots of European countries by end of 2013. Perhaps even at launch.
- Folding Screen. Likelihood: Low. Amazon has a patent for a Triple Folding Tablet. Might that be Kindle Fire 2? It’s very unlikely. It would be very cool if it happens.
For the last 2 to 4 years, we’ve been talking about how color eInk and/or dual screens (eInk+LCD) would give a company a huge advantage in the Tablet and eReader markets. Perhaps it’s just not feasible yet. Perhaps the price involved makes it unpractical. I still think a screen that can switch between eInk and LCD (or uses Color eInk) is an unbeatable proposition. Apple might be the company that brings that to market (sad given that Amazon and B&N have been making eInk eReaders for years and years).
Related Rumor: Kindle Smartphone. Likelihood: Medium to High. I would put this as Very High based on my gut instinct. Unfortunately, Amazon has shown an amazing ability to avoid and/or delay moves that make perfect sense. It might very well delay Kindle Phone to 2013 or even 2014. Despite the fact that now is when Apple is most vulnerable.
If Amazon’s only ‘innovation’ is an Ad supported, cheaper 7″ Kindle Fire – Well, that would be sad. It would make their Press Releases seem even more ridiculous and needy.
Nook Tablet 2 Rumors
Let’s list the Nook Tablet 2 rumors and their likelihood of being true -
- Amazing New Screen Technology. Likelihood: Quite High. B&N’s Nook Tablet screen still holds up very well. B&N has had two years to work on improving its Tablets (Nook Color came out in October/November 2010). There are rumors that B&N has been working with another company on ‘revolutionary’ screen technology never seen in any device. It is possible, though by no means guaranteed, that B&N’s Nook Tablet 2 really will come out with an amazing new screen technology.
- New Media Types. Likelihood: Very High. The partnership with Microsoft means access to music and movies and other media. There are also rumors that Nook Tablet 2 will have types of media never seen before on tablets. Not sure what that means – perhaps it will start playing Vinyl Records.
- Xbox Game Streaming and Xbox Live Integration. Likelihood: Medium and Very High. There will almost certainly be Xbox Live integration of some sort. Whether Xbox games will be streamed (the way OnLive and Gaikai stream games) is hard to predict.
- Windows 8 based Nook Tablet 2. Likelihood: Medium for a Separate Nook Tablet 2. It’s very unlikely that B&N will drop all its investment into Android and its current OS and switch to Windows 8 in 2012. It is, however, very likely (and also quite sensible) to release a SEPARATE Windows 8 based Nook Tablet 2 (either now or in 2013).
- Color eInk. Likelihood: Low to Medium. Color eInk just might not be ready. So the chances of the ‘amazing new screen technology’ being color eInk are quite low.
- Drastic Improvement to LCD Screen. Likelihood: High. B&N has focused a lot on the screen and on things like avoiding glare. The natural long-term direction for that focus would be a huge LCD screen technology improvement, a shift to Pixel Qi type screens that have multiple modes, or a shift to color eInk screens. Given that color eInk is very far off, the only natural choices left are - Pixel Qi, a big improvement in LCD screen technology.
- Kinect. Likelihood: Very Low. This would be a really amazing addition. For me, the most obvious Microsoft technology Nook Tablet 2 could benefit from is Kinect. It would allow for gesture based operation of the Tablet and give it a uniqueness no other Tablet has. It would be an unmatched feature. Note: Kinect would also allow for a ‘virtual keyboard’ that lets you type on any surface.
- International Availability. Likelihood: High. B&N is bringing its eInk eReaders to UK this Fall. Bringing Nook Tablet 2 to UK and rest of Europe seems the obvious next step. B&N could really help its bottom line by selling Nook Tablet 2 outside of the US. There is huge demand worldwide for really well made, low-price Tablets. There is more than enough room for a good, solid Tablet like Nook Tablet.
It’s interesting that -
- The Media totally ignores B&N’s Nook Tablet (to the point of claiming that Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire ‘created’ the 7″ Tablet Market).
- The only rumors about Nook Tablet 2 involve – new screen technology, new media types, Xbox integration, Windows 8. There has been no mention of 10″ Nook Tablets or Dual Screens or anything else.
B&N is a bit of a wild card. When companies are faced with huge odds, or their impending demise, they are likeliest to come up with the most creative ideas and the best products. Of all the companies introducing Tablets this year, B&N is the one with the strongest motivation to make something amazing. Its survival in the Tablet Market, and perhaps even its future existence, depends on Nook Tablet 2.
Kindle Fire 2 Predictions
I can only see two paths here.
Path 1: Hype and then a No-Show.
Kindle Fire 2 would be a slightly improved Kindle Fire 1. It would be somewhat competitive with Nexus 7. There would be a cheaper Kindle Fire 2 with Ads. There would be a 3G model with data charges but a very low upfront free ($50 or Free).
Amazon has shown in the past (Kindle Touch and Kindle WiFi) that it will sometimes hype a product launch that should not be hyped. Let’s hope that isn’t the case with all the Kindle Fire 2 hoopla.
Path 2: Hype and A Real Winner
We would have some of the options above. We would also have two real winners -
- Kindle Fire 2 Pro with a Color eInk or Dual LCD+eInk screen.
- Kindle Fire 2 Prime which is free when you sign up for Amazon Prime for 3 years ($210 or so) OR a 3 year Book-Buying Subscription.
Either of the above would make the Kindle Fire 2 very, very hard to compete with.
If Amazon takes Path 2, then by April 2013 it would release a very similar 10″ Kindle Fire 2 Model. If it takes Path 1, then it would probably stick with 7″ Kindle Fires for a long time.
Nook Tablet 2 Predictions
Things are more nuanced here. My prediction here would be that B&N ships a Nook Tablet 2 based on Android in October 2012. It would then ship a Nook Tablet 3 based on Windows 8 in March or April 2013.
- Nook Tablet 2 (Fall 2012) – Amazing new screen technology that is not quite revolutionary but gives B&N a unique selling point. Very strong device overall. Lots of new media types and integration with Xbox. B&N survives but doesn’t necessarily become the front-runner in low-price Tablets.
- Nook Tablet 3 (April 2013) – Here we get the actual revolutionary screen technology (color eInk or something as impressive). We also get Windows 8 as the Operating System. We get Xbox Games streaming.
B&N would keep Nook Color and Nook Tablet 1 available as low-priced models. These would compete against Kindle Fire 2 with Ads.
Best Case Kindle Fire 2 and Nook Tablet 2 Predictions
What would be best for users and competition would be -
- Kindle Fire 2 – Color eInk or Dual LCD. A PROPER Design. 7″ and 8.5″ and 10″ Models. Kindle Phone (with strong integration with Kindle Fire 2). Subscription Model with Books and Prime Subscriptions = Free Kindle Fire 2. International Availability.
- Nook Tablet 2 – Amazing new LCD technology. Windows 8 and Android Models. 7″ and 9″ Models. Kinect Support now or in early 2013. Xbox Games streaming. Book Subscription Model that offers heavily subsidized Nook Tablet 2. Lots of new types of Media Content. Availability of types of Media that have not been available on Tablets so far. International Availability (at least 4-5 big countries).
If Amazon and B&N could deliver all these things, or even half of these things, then they would eat away large chunks of the Tablet Market this Holiday Season and in 2013. Customers have shown they will buy Low Price, High Value Tablets. Amazon’s claim of 22% market share in the US, if true, and decent sales for both Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet (which seems quite likely given all the data points) highlight that. Lack of international availability is hurting both companies and their biggest opportunity is probably expanding worldwide.
Kindle Fire 2 and Nook Tablet 2 carry the Tablet hopes of Amazon and B&N. They determine the amount of competition in the Tablet market. A win for one or both of them would demonstrate how a company can survive and thrive amidst monsters like Google and Apple and Microsoft. For the sake of users and competition, let’s hope that Kindle Fire 2 and Nook Tablet 2 are absolutely stunning Tablets.