Kindle Color – How soon will Amazon release Kindle Color?

The Kindle finds its market dominance in reading devices threatened by the Nook Color.

Hard core readers might not be tempted by a ‘Reading Tablet’, but casual readers certainly are. Kindle has also faced the iPad onslaught. For better or worse, the Press has managed to create the misconception that eInk has no advantages over LCDs.

On top of that, the Nook Color has come in at $250 and is a reasonable size. It’s done what the iPad couldn’t i.e. reduce the comparison to ‘eInk vs doing more than just reading’.

At some point Reality makes itself felt

After a few weeks with the Nook Color, and after reading at least a dozen effusive reviews, it’s clear that the Nook Color is going to eat up a LOT of the eReader market. Everyone from TeleRead to the main stream press are smitten by Nook Color.

Forget all the other benefits, and just consider surfing the Net – color, a touchscreen, a 7″ screen. That’s one big benefit the Nook Color has over eInk eReaders.

Then consider what happens if people look at the devices side by side – Most of the Kindle’s benefits are things that only become evident after a few days of use. Things like the ease of reading, the lack of distractions, the joy of eInk, the great battery life.

In the 15 to 30 minutes people have in the store, the Nook Color is going to blow away people. It’s a color IPS LCD screen that’s much better than the iPad’s screen. It’s half the price of the iPad. It’s a ‘reading tablet’ with an ‘anti-glare coating’ that creates the perception that it massively bridges the gap between eInk and LCD. It doesn’t, but customers can’t tell that in 15 minutes.

Regardless of what Amazon might think of Nook Color – it’s a real, huge threat. Sooner or later, people are going to realize it’s a really, really good option for anyone who reads one or fewer books a month.

Add on Nook App Store Apps

The one big thing missing from Nook Color are apps. Once it gets decent apps, it’ll fully utilize its advantages (multi-purposeness, touch, color), and match up extremely well against iPad and Kindle.

It might even find a few killer apps that push it ahead. It’s based on Android, so there’s potentially a huge developer base. If B&N plays its cards right, it’ll have thousands of developers working to make the Nook Color better – for the promise of future earnings from apps.

The big danger Nook apps pose is that they might get even the 2-books-a-month people to choose Nook Color over Kindle.

Reality is that Nook Color will eat up market share, and might keep getting better

There are a few big problems the Nook Color creates for the Kindle –

  1. Nook Color does ‘more than just read’ while keeping the price within striking distance of Kindle. The Press has eroded eInk’s perceived value, so it’s enough for B&N to say Nook Color is ‘focused on reading’.
  2. Nook Color is very good.
  3. Nook Color might get much better if B&N runs the Nook App Store well.
  4. Nook Color gets library books and ePub.
  5. eInk doesn’t have color, and might not for a while.

If you’re Amazon, you might be thinking there’s no way a color LCD tablet steals away readers. However, it will. And it’ll keep increasing how many readers it steals – because it’s much more impressive in person.

If you hear from me – Now throwing away my iPhone and iPad are an option. It doesn’t really register.

Then you try reading in bed with the Nook Color, and contrast it with your current best option – It’s much better. Kindle might be better, with the magical cover with built-in reading light – but that’s $60 on top of the $189 of the Kindle 3.

This ‘Reading Tablet’ will damage eReader sales

We still don’t have word of mouth kicking in properly. We still don’t have apps that add additional value. We still have a fascination with the iPad. That’s going to change.

Almost every single review of the Nook Color has been glowing – as good as the iPad, best reading device, best eReader, worth buying. Sooner or later, it starts registering in people’s minds.

Amazon desperately needs a Kindle Color

The combination of the magical phrase ‘Reading tablet’, and an actual solid Tablet that’s focused on reading, means that we have a device that the Kindle can’t fight against. The part of the reader market that likes Nook Color, will not want an eInk device. Additionally, the $250 price keeps the iPad at bay.

Amazon can neither compete with the Kindle, nor with Kindle for iPad. Its only option is to create and release a Kindle Color.

There are signs it might have one in the works. There are hires, such as today’s hire of Jon Rubenstein (head of the team that released iPod, former Palm CEO), that show Amazon might be working on a Kindle Color.

It can’t come soon enough.

First Mover Advantage might make Nook Color unbeatable

If Nook Color manages to –

  1. Sell 3 to 4 million Nook Colors. 
  2. Create a link in people’s minds that it’s the default ‘color eReader’ and the default ‘reading tablet’.
  3. Release a bunch of reading related apps that no other device has, or even apps that no other reading focused device has.
  4. Get word of mouth going, and hit a big growth spurt (the beaten to death hockey stick curve).
  5. Cut down the price to $175 or $200 within 6 months.

Then it’s unbeatable.

It might not seem that way – However, what company in the recent past has been able to dethrone an incumbent?

It’s infinitely difficult. 

Researchers did a study and found that if the #2 product in a market does a lot of advertising, the sales of the #1 product increase more than that of #2. If people start thinking ‘Reading Tablet = Nook Color’ then anything Amazon does to advertise Kindle Color will increase Nook Color sales.

The 6 month to 9 month Window of Opportunity

There are two things Amazon has to hope don’t happen before it launches Kindle Color –

  • That Nook Color becomes the default ‘Reading Tablet’.
  • That the Nook App Store takes off, and developers start making money.

If it can release a Kindle Color in 3 to 6 months, it might avoid both. If it can release a Kindle Color in 6 to 9 months, it might avoid one of the two.

If Amazon doesn’t have an answer for Nook Color within 9 months, then it’s Game Over in the Reading Tablet market.

The obvious question is – We know what Amazon ought to do, but what what will it actually do?

How soon will Amazon release Kindle Color?

There are three broad possibilities –

  1. Amazon has a Kindle Color, or a Kindle Tablet, in the works, and it’s coming out within the next 6 to 9 months. This would be great, and give it a very good shot at beating Nook Color.
  2. Amazon recently started developing a Kindle Color – It’ll have something out within a year or so. This isn’t good enough – It should instead focus on buying B&N, because if there isn’t a Kindle Color out soon, B&N will rule the Reading Tablet market for a long, long time.
  3. Amazon is going with a Color eInk based eReader. Well, unless the price is $250 or less, it’s not going to work. There’s no way color eInk eReaders are going to be $200.

A February 2011 release of a Kindle Color would make sense. It’s possible Amazon won’t have anything ready by then. With every month that passes after February 2011, Amazon is reducing its chances of catching up with Nook Color.

It’s the strangest thing – At the end of 2010, Year of eReaders vs Tablets, the most dangerous device is a Reading Tablet. In a showdown of Amazon, Google, and Apple – an almost-insolvent B&N has created the most innovative reading device.