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?

Kindle 4 wishlist

The Kindle might see a new version, Kindle 4, sometime in end 2011 or in early 2012. Kindle 4 will probably have some new features, a whole bunch of incremental improvements, and perhaps even a jump or two in technology.

There’s a very interesting discussion currently going on at the official Kindle forum - ‘A wishlist for the 4th generation Kindle’.

Kindle owners’ Kindle 4 wishlist

Here’s what people are wishing for, with my thoughts in italics -

Note: Have put my favorite suggestions at the top.

  1. A faster processor, with faster web page downloads. Faster processor would definitely be nice. Web page downloads are probably restricted by speed of the 3G connection, or perhaps by some sort of throttling courtesy AT&T. 
  2. Nested Collections (collections within collections). This would be a sweet feature addition.
  3. 7″ screen. A wonderful suggestion.
  4. Higher resolution screen. Another great suggestion. We have had more than enough contrast improvements – time to improve the resolution.
  5. Custom Screensavers. We can hope. Also a few people asking for image packs – what a splendid idea.
  6. Support for Library Books. Not many people mentioned this – which was very surprising.
  7. Number keys with @ in a row above QWERTY keys. Please bring this back, Amazon.
  8. Slide-out keyboard. An interesting suggestion.
  9. Better Keyboard. Yes. A proper keyboard would be a huge Kindle advantage – it’s time Amazon built a top notch Kindle keyboard.
  10. Flexible Kindle that can be bent as the user pleases. It would also make the Kindle very hard to break when dropped – hopefully.
  11. A more streamlined interface with better sorting. Quite a few people asking for this.
  12. Multiple user profiles on a Kindle. Different readers could share a Kindle better. Amazon probably wants each user to buy a Kindle of her/his own so it’s doubtful Amazon will ever add this.
  13. Turn on the microphone. Amen to that.
  14. A backlight. There’s no reason the pull out light can’t be ‘in the Kindle’.
  15. Allow books from other sources. Not a lot of people asking for this. Little chance Amazon adds this feature.
  16. Bring back the memory card slot. Another great suggestion.
  17. Color – with the option to turn it on or off. Color would certainly be nice.
  18. A touchscreen. Just one person asked for this – this would add a lot if done right. Most of the gains would not be in reading though.
  19. Ability to manage Kindle collections on the PC. That would be a useful feature.
  20. Letters that don’t rub off. It would be nice if Kindle owners didn’t find the letters on their Kindle’s keyboards getting rubbed off. 
  21. Books that are already read being marked as such. Such a simple addition and it would add so much value.
  22. Better support for images in books.
  23. Download all ebooks to Kindle in one go. This would certainly be nice – except Amazon and AT&T would both have heart attacks.
  24. The ability to choose what music to play and the ability to organize music. Agreed. The current music controls are painful.
  25. Make the menus wrap-around so that pressing down at the bottom goes to the top-most item, and pressing up at the top goes to the bottom-most item.
  26. 1-click bookmark. If something simpler than Alt+B can be done that would be nice. Perhaps use Shift as the bookmark key.
  27. Option to reset ‘last page read’.
  28. Smaller Bezel. This is already too small for some people, so not sure if it’s a good idea.
  29. Buttons to feel more rubbery. Don’t even know what that means.
  30. More Graphic Battery Monitor. Agreed.
  31. Battery Indicator as a Percentage. This would do the trick too.
  32. Wireless headset. Lots of requests for this. Kindle 4 would have to have bluetooth added in.
  33. More Graphic Memory Monitor. Don’t know.
  34. Bigger battery that supports 2 corner reading lights. Don’t know about this one.
  35. Brightness settings for the reading light. A good idea – a dimmer would be nice.
  36. Replaceable battery and battery life monitor. The latter sounds too macabre – Your Battery has 27 days to live. Get the coffin ready. Buy a book of poems by Sylvia Plath.
  37. Ability to organize books by publication date. Very useful.
  38. Spill and Water Resistant. Interesting.
  39. Ability to specify the time period after which the Kindle screensaver will appear. A good suggestion.
  40. Discount on Kindle 4 for existing Kindle owners. This would be beautiful.
  41. Voice Commands. A very cool feature.
  42. Louder sound settings for those with hearing problems. Great suggestion. 
  43. On/off slider at the top instead of at the bottom. Wonder if there are any manufacturing benefits to having it at the bottom.

That’s a very impressive list of suggestions. It’s doubtful that any single person could have come up with a list half as good. You can find the Kindle 4 wishlist thread at Amazon – thank to Capt. D for starting it.

Here’s an interesting tip from Paxton -

you can directly select music now. Just add the MP3 to your documents folder instead of (or as well as) your Music folder. Then create a “Music Collection” to store them in. Then if you want to play songs one at a time, you can pick whichever one you want.

Will have to check that out. Note: It only plays one song at a time, and a song played this way doesn’t play in the background when reading.

My Kindle 4 wishlist

A Kindle Tablet that is Amazon’s equivalent of the Nook Color.

That’s it.

A hacked Nook Color with Kindle for Android is just too ghetto – It’s like someone did everything Steve Jobs asks his designers not to do. Kindle for Android just doesn’t cut it on Nook Color – the app needs to be built from the ground up as a reading tablet app.

The Nook Color’s default reading app is very good – However, it does keep losing your place in the book. More importantly, you don’t have your Kindle library.

If a Kindle Reading Tablet is not possible, then a flexible, foldable, ‘fits in your pocket’ Kindle 4 with handwriting recognition would be great. Color would be a nice bonus.

The need for a foldable Kindle, 4 free books

First, for your Kindle, here are 4 kindle free books -

  1. The Judge Who Stole Christmas by Randy Singer. Price: $0. Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Christian, Christmas. Rated 4.5 stars on 8 reviews.

    This holiday novella’s premise is a Christmas-time court battle over a live crèche scene set up in the town square of Possum, Va. Thomas Hammond loves playing Joseph in this crèche, and he is determined to keep turning out for his role regardless of what the ACLU or a decidedly Grinch-like judge has to say about it. His resolve earns him the respect of some of his fellow church-goers, but it also lands him in jail. He is defended by Jasmine Woodfaulk, a third-year law student who sticks with the case even though its notoriety costs her a plum job at a top law firm in New York

  2. Lessons of a Brand Manager by Michael F. Golden. Price: $0. Genre: Business, Branding, Brand Management.

    After 150-plus years in the firearms business, customers everywhere recognized the Smith & Wesson name—but they didn’t know what it stood for. For CEO Michael Golden and the team of brand-builders he put together, the management challenge wasn’t just about reclaiming market share. It was about regaining an understanding of how potential customers perceived the business and how best to tap into that.

    Golden’s grasp of brand management, which he gained in other industries, helped him make decisions about how to engage employees, create partnerships, design marketing plans, and even structure his own role in ways that would ensure that the company conveyed a consistent brand message. Here’s what you can learn from his experience.

  3. The Truth About Getting the Best From People by Martha I. Finney. Price: $0. Genre: Leadership, Human Resources, Personnel Management. Rated 5 stars on 4 reviews.

    “Finally, a no-nonsense primer for leaders on how to build…and keep…extraordinary talent. This book should be in the briefcase of every exec in the world and should be pulled out every day for a refresher on how to be a real leader.”
                                      - Dan Walker, Former Chief Talent Officer for Apple, Inc.

  4. 15 Ways to Take Control of Your Career Now by FT Press. Price: $0. Genre: Business, Career Management. Rated 4 stars on 1 review.

    Fifteen powerfully useful mini-guides help you get ahead where you are or move on…find your next great job, negotiate great compensation, and start with confidence…smoothly handle nonstop change, negative emotions, and whatever else comes your way!

    From world-renowned leaders and experts, including Dr. Gregory Shea, Robert Gunther, Martha I. Finney, and more.

These take our total for the day to 11.

Next, let’s make the case for Amazon to focus on making a foldable Kindle. Perhaps as soon as Kindle 4 or Kindle DX 3.

The Case for a Foldable Kindle

Look at the Sony 350′s extreme portability and you have to admire just how convenient it is – put it in your pocket and take it everywhere. Look at the Nook Color’s 7″ screen and it’s obvious that 7″ or 8″ would be a better fit for books than the Kindle 3′s 6″ screen.

Well, there’s a way Kindle 4 and Kindle DX 3 could combine the benefits of both.

A Foldable Kindle would be extremely portable

If Kindle 3 were foldable it could be half or a third in size. You could fold it into the size of the keyboard and put it in your pocket or handbag and not have to worry about carrying it in your hand or it taking up a lot of space in your bag.

If Kindle DX were foldable in half it would be the size of the Kindle 3. You could also design it to fold to a third of the size or even a fourth of the size. The single biggest reason my Kindle DX doesn’t see more use is that it’s so awkward to carry around.

A side benefit of extreme portability would be that Kindles would be dropped less – You’d be carrying them in your hands less and they would be easier to grip/hold when moving around.

Foldable Kindle = We can go with larger screen sizes

We don’t have to limit ourselves to screens that are the current size or just a tiny bit bigger.

We could have the Kindle fold out into almost the exact size of a paperback – two 7″ screens facing each other. We could have a Kindle DX that folds out into double the current size.

You could have a Kindle 4 that is half the size of the Kindle 3 when folded up and then opens into the size of a paperback with two full 7″ screens.

The argument that adding folding adversely affects thickness is not very valid because we’re already at a point where the thinness adds little – Kindles are almost too thin. If the Kindle were 1″ instead of 0.33″ it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Also, it’s mostly the eInk screen size that would be affected – so the thickness wouldn’t need to increase very much.

A Foldable Kindle would offer much better protection

Firstly, we’d have to use flexible eInk to make a foldable Kindle and that would mean the screen would naturally be harder to break.

Secondly, a foldable Kindle would mean the eInk screen could be covered up – no scratches from anything in your pocket or anything in your bag, less chance of the screen hitting something.

Finally, it’s possible to use designs that transfer the stress of a fall away the screen and internal components – Perhaps when you drop your Kindle the stress is transferred into the hinges and joints and there’s something there (like rubber) to take the pressure. Perhaps the edges have absorbent rubber or a special protective casing.

Foldable Kindles would offer new design possibilities

Qualcomm has a patent for a foldable device with 3 screens that changes its functionality based on how the screens are aligned with each other. It’s a great idea to take inspiration from.

With a foldable Kindle DX you could have it go into a ‘two page book’ mode when the screens are held in landscape view and folded inwards a bit. Then you unfold it and align it in portrait view and it’s the normal Kindle DX.

A Folding Kindle would be very cool

It would be a huge advantage because foldable screens aren’t very common at all. The Kindle would suddenly have this eInk screen which is better for reading than any other screen technology and is also foldable.

Not sure about this but don’t think that LCD screens are very amenable to folding – Manufacturers would have to re-tool their entire production facilities. It might be a long time before other screen technologies could compete with foldable, flexible eInk screens. Basically, eInk hasn’t got billions of dollars invested into facilities that make non-flexible screens. If eInk quickly shifts to flexible screens it’d take LCD screen manufacturers a while to catch up.

A flexible, foldable screen would be a huge advantage for the Kindle and it’s definitely something Amazon should look into for Kindle 4.

Color Kindle 4? a color eInk video + 2 kindle free books

First, the two free kindle books -

  1. Slow Ride: Rough Riders by Lorelei James. Genre: Romance, Touchy-Feely Covers.  Price: $0. It’s got one very strong endorsement -

    Keely has always been my favorite female character…What a treat to be able to read more about her wedding and Jack’s plans for their honeymoon.
    Slow Ride is funny, definitely SEXY and emotional…yes I cried while reading it. I also fell in LOVE with Jack all over again =)

  2. Money Saving Mom has a Thanksgiving Your Way book that’s pretty cool. It’s in DRM free PDF format and has recipes, decorating ideas, and more. Thanks to the kindle forum commenter who mentioned the book.

It’s a never-ending stream of free kindle books this week – not that we’re complaining.

Color eInk Video leaked 1 day in advance

Akihabara News has a video of the new color eInk from PVI/eInk which is called ‘Triton’. It’s quite remarkable and definitely worth watching (thanks to CW for the tip).

PVI/eInk was supposed to launch the Triton color eInk screens tomorrow at the Waste-of-Time Conference in Japan but it’s already got all the information on its website -

  1. Up to 1 month battery life. That’s shockingly good.  
  2. Thousands of colors in addition to 16 levels of grayscale. eInk claims the text is still crisp and that color graphics and text are both fully viewable in direct sunlight.
  3. Triton, just like eInk Pearl, is 20% faster than the previous generation of eInk.

There is a Triton Color eInk page at PVI/eInk’s website and that too is well worth checking out. There’s even a customer showcase with Kindle and some other eInk powered devices shown off.

Here are the technical specifications for Triton color eInk screens -

10:1 Contrast Ratio
White State: 70 (minimum)
Dark State: 24 (maximum)
Bit Depth: 4-bit; 4096 colors, 16 levels CR
Reflective: 40% (minimum)
Viewing Angle: Near 180 degrees
Image Update Time: 240 ms to 980 ms
Update Modes: Color, Text, Pen, Animation

Also,
Available Display Sizes: 2 to 12 inches
Display Thickness: 12 mm
Resolution: Capabilities exceed 200 dpi
Aspect Ratio: Typical eReaders use 4:3 

The reflectivity is not ideal, the sharpness and richness of the colors isn’t comparable to LCDs, and .25 to .98 seconds image update time is slow. However, color eInk is still very impressive due to its battery life, its readability in sunlight, and for the fact that it’s finally about to materialize.

The video and website do a good job of explaining how Triton works. All of this leads to an obvious question.

Will we see a Color Kindle 4 powered by Triton Color eInk?

Surely, Amazon isn’t going to let Hanvon have all the fun.

The way things stand it seems that Mirasol and eInk Triton are the only two horses in the race - you have to wonder which one Amazon has picked. The Triton color eInk video isn’t as impressive as Qualcomm’s Mirasol videos but Amazon has worked with PVI/eInk since the first Kindle and PVI/eInk has proven it can deliver ePaper screens at scale.

Will Amazon release a Kindle 4 in mid or even early 2011 that uses eInk Triton?

Perhaps Amazon will wait till end 2011 and release a Color Kindle that uses the Mirasol display. Perhaps it will be a $249 Kindle Color meant to take on Nook Color and the iPad mini (assuming it materializes - Steve Jobs’ denial pretty much guarantees it exists).  

Don’t know whether Amazon will be able to release a color ePaper based eReader at $249. If it can, a Color Kindle 4 at $249 would slot in nicely between Kindle 3 and Kindle DX 2.

What impact will Nook Color have on Kindle 4?

You have to imagine that if Nook Color is a big hit and/or starts taking market share in the eReader market Amazon will respond quickly. In that case it might need to release a color Kindle 4 early in 2011 and eInk Triton might be its only option. Unless of course Mirasol displays are being produced in large enough numbers and are available at low enough prices to be a viable option.

If, on the other hand, Nook Color doesn’t do well or doesn’t do well with readers then Amazon might just decide it can wait till end 2011 or even 2012 to release a color Kindle and we might see only software improvements to Kindle 3 or perhaps a black and white eInk powered Kindle 4 that adds a touchscreen.

It’s all very exciting – Hanvon’s color eReader isn’t slated to arrive until March but it sets the ball rolling and now everyone will be trying to one-up Hanvon. It just seems that color eReaders in general, and a color Kindle in particular, are closer than we thought.

Kindle 4, color eInk eReader from Hanvon, free religious books

Let’s start with the free kindle books -

  1. Can I Be Sure I’m Saved by R. C. Sproul. Price: Free. Genre: Religious, Christian, Salvation. It hasn’t been reviewed yet – guess people who’ve found their salvation have little time for trivial things like writing reviews.

    Many people in the church today are plagued by doubts about their salvation. Satan whispers that it is impossible that sinners such as they could be in a state of grace, and some churches compound the problem by teaching that it is possible for believers to lose their salvation.

    But assurance of salvation is possible in this life. Indeed, as Dr. R.C. Sproul argues in this Crucial Questions booklet, it is the duty of Christians to make their calling sure (2 Peter 1:10). To help believers reach this goal, Dr. Sproul defines assurance, shows how we can get it, reveals the blessings it confers, and warns of the dangers of false assurance.

  2. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman. Genre: Religious, Amish, Christmas. Rated 5 stars on 8 reviews.

    Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with a budding romance with an Amish farmer and Annie has several important choices to make.

It’s amusing and disconcerting that 2 free kindle books are now almost a disappointment – Where are the other 9 we were promised?

A Kindle Book Deal

Why is this $1 book showing up in free book searches? No idea.

It does, however, look very interesting – The Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher. Be warned that it might turn into a free offer later.

Rae Wilder has problems. Plunged into a world of dark magic, fierce creatures and ritual sacrifice, she is charged with a guarding a magical amulet.

Rae finds herself beaten up, repeatedly, and forced to make a choice: to live and die human, or embrace her birth-right and wield magics that could turn her into something wicked, a force of nature nothing can control.

The First Color eInk eReader

It’s got a 9.68″ screen. A screen that is color eInk from the same company (PVI/eInk) that makes the Kindle 3′s eInk Pearl screen. It’ll be available in March 2011 in China – perhaps in the US too. It’ll be priced at $440.

This might be the first color eInk eReader. Of course, Amazon and Mirasol and Sony might spoil its debut between now and then.

New York Times has written a never-ending, rambling, article on the Hanvon Color eInk eReader - you have to wonder why Hanvon would announce 5 months in advance that it will be the first company to sell a color eInk eReader.

NY Times gets us all excited -

… on Tuesday at the FPD International 2010 trade show in Tokyo, a Chinese company will announce that it will be the first to sell a color display using technology from E Ink …

And then drops us back to Earth -

Hanvon’s first product using a 9.68-inch color touch screen will be available this March in China, starting at about $440.

Yes – wait till the 12th paragraph to let us know the trivial meaningless detail that it won’t arrive until March 2011.

We also get some eReader sales estimates from analysts -

Ms. Colegrove of DisplaySearch said these types of lower-cost products should continue to gain market share, growing from four million units sold worldwide in 2009 to 14 million units by 2011.

14 million units in 2011 – Aren’t eReaders dead?

All this talk of color eInk makes it a good time to wonder what screen Kindle 4 will have.

Kindle 4 – Mirasol or Pixel Qi or eInk?

If Hanvon is bringing color eInk to market you have to imagine Amazon can’t be too far behind. A $440 color eReader with a 9.86″ screen is a pretty credible threat to the Kindle DX 2. Additionally, Amazon would appear to be losing the eReader technology race.

Amazon needs a Kindle 4 with a color screen and it has 4 main options -

  1. Kindle Color like Nook Color that has a LCD screen. This is unlikely – Amazon is probably far more interested in a LCD powered Kindle Tablet and is unlikely to position that as a ‘dedicated eReader’.
  2. Pixel Qi with its multi-mode screen that uses LCD but has a black and white reflective mode. Notion Ink’s Adam is supposed to be the first tablet with the Pixel Qi screen. The reactions to it would determine how seriously Amazon and other large companies take Pixel Qi screens. Again, it’s likely that Amazon would use such a screen in a Kindle Tablet and not in Kindle 4.
  3. Mirasol is the most likely candidate. You have to imagine Amazon is sick and tired of the glacial rate at which eInk has been evolving its technology. Qualcomm also happens to be a much bigger and much more reliable company. If you had to choose a color ePaper technology for Kindle 4 – Would you go with Qualcomm or PVI/eInk?
  4. PVI/eInk has the advantage of being the incumbent and also being one of the few companies that have their ePaper screens being used in the real world. Amazon might go with color eInk from PVI. To the best of my understanding - Color eInk = eInk Pearl with a color layer over it.

Mirasol is the only option that’s exciting. The first 2 options are more suitable for an Android powered Kindle Tablet. PVI/eInk’s color eInk is not going to be as sharp or high contrast as eInk Pearl because it’s probably going to be the same screen with a color creating layer over it – which reduces reflectivity.

In terms of timing it’s quite conceivable that Amazon lets Hanvon bear the cost of validating the market and then steps in with a color Kindle 4 in mid to end 2011 if there seems to be strong demand. It’s a risky strategy but Amazon has enough branding, enough of a lead, and a strong-enough Kindle eco-system to bear the risk.

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