Let’s paint a picture of what the Kindle Family looks like, and what it might look like by end of 2013.
Kindle Family As It Currently Stands
Right now, as of April 28th (2013), we have –
The eInk Kindles
- Kindle 1. The original Kindle. The Kindle that started it all. Can you believe it came in at $399. The tech media were having a field day – claiming it would sell only 40,000 units. That no one reads. And other such nonsense.
- Kindle 2. The second Kindle. This did a good job but not a great one. It was more of a Kindle 1.5 than a Kindle 2.
- Kindle 3. This was a major step forward. Perhaps the best eInk Kindle made so far. This was also the last Kindle with a physical keyboard (Amazon now refers to it as the ‘Kindle Keyboard’). It is, in my opinion, by far the best eInk Kindle made.
- Kindle WiFi. Not exactly Kindle 4. More like a Kindle Economy Edition with neither a keyboard nor a touchscreen.
- Kindle 4 (Touch Kindle). This was not really an improvement over the Kindle 3. However, the addition of Touch makes it the ‘next Kindle’ after Kindle 3 – hence Kindle 4.
- Kindle 5 (Kindle Paperwhite). This, again, wasn’t really much of an improvement over the Kindle 3, apart from the light. The addition of the lighted screen makes it the ‘next Kindle’ after Kindle 4 – hence Kindle 5.
The Kindle Fire Tablets
- Kindle Fire. The first Kindle Fire. It was rushed to market to prevent B&N’s Nook Color and Nook Tablet from eating up the market. A solid success. Amazon now wants to refer to this as ‘Kindle Fire Original Edition’ (Because calling it Kindle Fire 1 would be too straightforward).
- Kindle Fire. This is the newer version of the Kindle Fire. This was improved over the first Kindle Fire, but not by much. It’s such a slight improvement that perhaps we should just call it Kindle Fire 1.1.
- Kindle Fire HD. This is the real Kindle Fire 2. It adds an HD screen, great speakers, and several other improvements. An actual solid successor to the Kindle Fire, and worthy of being called ‘Kindle Fire 2’.
- Kindle Fire HD 8.9“. This should have been called the Kindle Fire Max or Kindle Fire X (something simple). I consider this an entirely separate device (since it’s a 9″ Tablet). We’ll disregard the various variants i.e. Kindle Fire X with LTE or without LTE – it’s all just one line of 9” Kindle Fires.
Where does that leave us?
With 6 Kindles and 4 Kindle Fires in all.
With 2 lines of eInk Kindles – the Kindle line and the Kindle WiFi (Kindle Economy Edition) line.
With 2 lines of Kindle Fires – the Kindle Fire line and the Kindle Fire X (9″ screen) line.
The newest devices in each line are –
- Kindle 5 (Kindle Paperwhite) is the newest eInk Kindle.
- Kindle WiFi (Kindle Economy Edition) is the newest economy eInk Kindle.
- Kindle Fire 2 (Kindle Fire HD) is the newest Kindle Fire.
- Kindle Fire X (Kindle Fire HD 8.9″) is the newest 9″ Kindle Fire.
Is there really a need for each of these 4 Kindle lines?
The need for the 7″ Kindle Fire line and the main eInk Kindle line is very well established. One is Amazon’s main Tablet and one is Amazon’s main eReader.
Given how frequently Amazon is cutting the prices of the Kindle Fire X (HD 8.9″), it’s quite possible it might be discontinued. There is a market for 9″ and 10″ Tablets – However, it seems to be shrinking as people go for the lower priced, more convenient 7″ and 8″ Tablets.
Amazon needs a new Kindle Fire X (X2?) to compete against the iPad. However, the market for iPad and 10″ Tablets is shrinking so it might just be better for Amazon to concentrate on its main 7″ Kindle Fire line.
Kindle WiFi (Kindle Economy Edition) is needed for people who want a super-cheap eInk Reading device. Amazon might consider simplifying and going with just one Kindle line – However, that would lead to a lot of lost sales. Casual Readers don’t want to pay more than $50 to $100 for a dedicated eInk eReader. Amazon needs something for them.
So we may see the end of the 9″ Kindle Fire Tablet, but the other three lines of Kindles should be around for a while.
Kindle Family with a Simpler Naming Scheme
The current naming scheme for Kindles is a bit complicated – better suited for algorithms.
Here are the names Amazon has for its currently selling eInk Kindles and Kindle Fires. Next to each is my suggested ‘simple’ name.
- Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + WiFi, 6″ eInk Display. That’s ridiculous. Better Name: Kindle 3.
- Kindle (for the Kindle WiFi). This is a good choice. Very sweet and simple.
- Kindle Paperwhite. Better Name: Kindle 5.
- Kindle Paperwhite 3G. There’s no need to have this separately.
- Kindle Fire Tablet. Better Name: Fire. Just Fire or Kindle Fire is good.
- Kindle Fire HD Tablet. This is a decent name, actually. HD is easy to understand. Better Name: Kindle Fire 2.
- Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ Tablet. Better Name: Kindle Fire X.
- Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless Tablet. There’s no need to have this separately. LTE is an optional add-on.
Amazon needs to focus on easy to remember, simple names that make sense. Choosing ‘Kindle’ for the Kindle WiFi is a good step. Amazon should consider doing similar easy names for all other Kindles. For Example: Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is really awkward. Who on Earth puts 8.9″ as part of their name?
Kindle Family 2013 Likely Additions
Let’s go with our own simple names (Amazon is probably going to name its phone – Kindle Phone 3G with Voice Calls and Voice Mail and Almost as Good as iPhone for Half the Price).
Firstly, as Larry mentioned in the comments for an earlier post, Amazon should use the Amazon brand whenever possible and not the Kindle brand. Yes, people at Amazon are all emotionally attached to ‘Kindle’, plus all devices are made by Lab 126 (which also made Kindle). However, people understand and love ‘Amazon’. Just like Apple didn’t name its tablet the iPod iPad, let’s not name the Amazon Phone the Kindle Phone. It just causes confusion and kills the opportunity to ride on the trusted Amazon brand.
Here are the likely additions to the Kindle Family in the rest of 2013 (with suggested names suited for use by human beings) –
- Kindle Phone Medium Range – Amazon Phone. Or something even shorter like APhone or UPhone.
- Kindle Phone High End – Amazon Phone Premium or Amazon Phone+. Or perhaps just keep the name the same. Just have it as a variant of the APhone.
- Kindle TV – Amazon TV. This is short and sweet and makes sense.
- Kindle TV with Special Features etc. – Amazon TV X or Amazon TV Plus or Amazon TV+.
- New eInk Kindle with HD screen – Kindle 6 or Kindle HD. That’s it. No ‘Kindle Brighter Shade of PaperWhite’ or any of that nonsense.
- I think there’ll be two Kindles released. For the Economy Model it’s best to just name it Kindle (the current name) or Kindle Mini and stick with that.
- New Kindle Fires – Kindle Fire 3 (or Fire 3) and Kindle Fire X2 (or Fire X2). I’m assuming Amazon will continue with a large screen Kindle Fire.
It’s quite possible that Amazon makes a royal hash of things and introduces 4-6 different phone models. In case it does, it should try and keep things simple and have just 1 or 2 phone names (APhone and APhone+) and have variants.
For Kindle TV (Amazon TV), it’s hard to mess things up. However, let’s hope Amazon sticks with a name that’s easy to remember and also serves as good solid branding.
Kindle Family at the end of 2013
At the end of 2013 we’ll probably have –
2 Lines of eInk Kindles (with one holdover)
- Kindle 6 – the newest eInk Kindle. The successor of the Kindle Paperwhite. Very conveniently it’ll be a 6″ screen too.
- Kindle WiFi – Perhaps even cheaper at $49. The name will probably just be ‘Kindle’.
- Kindle Keyboard (a holdover). Since Amazon hasn’t made a better Kindle, and since keyboards are critical for some readers, I don’t see this being discontinued.
3 Lines of Kindle Fires
- Kindle Fire – A newer version of the lower range Kindle Fire.
- Kindle Fire 3 – The successor of the Kindle Fire HD.
- Kindle Fire X2 – The successor of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. This isn’t guaranteed, just likely.
2 Lines of Kindle Phones
- Amazon Phone (APhone? UPhone?). The lower end Kindle Phone.
- Amazon Phone Plus (APhone+? UPhone+?). The higher end Kindle Phone.
2 Lines of Kindle TV
- Amazon TV. The $50 Kindle TV set-top box.
- Amazon TV+. The $50 Kindle TV+ set-top box with a subscription and special options. This might be the same hardware as Amazon TV or it might be completely different hardware with DVR capabilities and live TV.
It’s not very likely, yet entirely possible, that Amazon releases other Kindle hardware. Will have to think more about what Amazon might have in the works. An innovative color screen device (either Tablet with color eInk screen or eReader with color eInk) is quite possible. Amazon did buy Liquavista from Phillips Netherlands.
For now, it seems the Kindle Family at the end of 2013 will consist of Kindles, Kindle Fires, Kindle Phones, and Kindle TV.