Please wait at least 3 weeks before buying a Kindle or an eReader

It’s so EXCITING – Amazon has refurbished Kindles for sale.

Actually, it’s not.

It’s just the latest sign that Kindle 4 (AKA Touchable, Delectable Kindle with Politically Correct But Totally Boring Name that Kills Brevity and Chops it into a Thousand Little Pieces) is about to be announced in two to three weeks.

Given that there is a small chance we might see something exciting -

  1. 3% chance we’ll see a 100% amazing color screen or something equally cool like gesture recognition.
  2. 97% chance we’ll see a 10% amazing touch screen or a 1% amazing low-priced Kindle with Super Special 1-Day Only Offers with Cashback.

It makes absolutely no sense to buy a Kindle right now.

Of course, if you belong to the grand tradition of ‘Reading is not worth more than a $100 device’ then congratulations – You can get a refurbished WiFi for $99, and then write about how it sucks because unlike a real book it doesn’t work without external lighting … ummm … that’s confusing … you mean to say real books never used to work without external light.

Does this really mean a new Kindle is around the corner?

Yes, because Amazon loves to go indirect and put ‘refurbished’ Kindles on sale. Of course, it doesn’t mean that every (or any) refurbished Kindle sold for $99 will actually be new.

Please Note: This is conjecture – there is little chance that you’ll get a new Kindle. Assume that there is a 100% chance you will get a refurbished Kindle with Tommy loves Becky carved into the Silicon motherboard.

Amazon tends to do one or more of the following when it has a new model about to arrive – put the current model on sale or cut the price (which it did via the Kindle 3G with Special Offers move), put the ‘refurbished’ version on sale (which it just did today), organize a leak to BusinessWeek or another main stream publication (which should happen next week).

All signs point to a Kindle 4 being right around the corner. Amazon has become so obvious that even the main stream blogs are taking a break from writing about how iPhone 5 might be 0.05 picometer thinner than iPhone 4 to write about the amazing, journalistic-insight-filled news that Kindle 4 might be arriving soon.

Tip of the Hat to Google

Our favorite ‘All Your Books are Belong to Us’ company Google has managed a feat that Schroedinger’s Cat would be proud of -

  1. Google Spectral Presence 1 – It is so wrong that Apple and Microsoft are buying up patents and will make more money from Android than we will. Patents are wrong. Patents are just standing in the way of innovation. All these telecom patents are just limiting progress. After all, who cares about some algorithm that lets you get data faster?
  2. Google Spectral Presence 2 – Hey, did you hear about the cool new patent we got for our Google Doodles. Because it’s such a cool amazing idea – to draw Doodles and use that to get people interested in visiting our site. It’s deep and meaningful and not trivial and unworthy of patents like some random telecommunication patents which cover technology that billions of cellphones use.

It’s interesting how people develop religion around companies.

The person who has Google religion refuses to acknowledge that iPhone is easier to use.

The person who has Apple religion refuses to acknowledge that Microsoft’s Kinect is a pretty cool technology and probably more revolutionary than something like FaceTime which was already available via a dozen different companies.

The person who has Microsoft religion refuses to acknowledge that it’s impressive (and disconcerting) that Google still has the clearly best Search Engine. That even after fitting in 19 ads and 19 links to Google’s other sites, Google still has better search results than its competitors. If that isn’t a miracle, what is?

Will we start seeing the same thing with Kindle and Sony Reader and Nook?

What happens if Amazon releases a totally pointless Kindle 4? Will Kindle owners be able to recognize its lack of impressiveness or are they wedded to the belief that Kindle is untouchable?

What happens if Amazon releases something truly impressive? Will Nook owners just pretend that color (or gesture recognition) means nothing?

What if Sony’s new eReaders (yes, those are around the corner too and promise to have WiFi) are way better than Nook Touch and Kindle 4?

What about the Kindle Tablet?

Truthfully, if Kindle 4 only has touch then it’s as unremarkable as a doorknob in a house with 25 rooms.

In that case, the Kindle tablet becomes far more interesting.

Will it talk to you and ask you how your day at work went? Will it come in for under $200? Will it be possessive and be jealous of your long walks with your dog? Will it come with free movies and free music?

The Kindle Tablet is the promised Tablet that shall turn the iPad market into a Tablet market. Will it really do that? What effect will it have on the delightful Nook Color? Will there be a Nook Color 2 that will steal the Kindle Tablet’s thunder and send Amazon back to the drawing board?

Exciting times – we live in exciting times. And sometimes the excitement ends up being justified.

Kindle 4 Release Date of October 2011 (rumor)

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 -

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 -

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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?

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