Kindle Fire 2, Nook Tablet 2 Predictions & Rumors

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 –

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Two 7″ Kindle Fire 2 models. Likelihood: High. One with Ads and one Ad-Free.
  4. 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.
  5. Color eInk Screen. Likelihood: Low. This would be very cool but it’s perhaps far away from being in usable shape.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Kindle Fire 2 with Amazing New LCD Screen. Likelihood: Low. Nook Tablet 2 is far more likely to use a new screen technology.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 –

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 –

  1. Kindle Fire 2 Pro with a Color eInk or Dual LCD+eInk screen.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 –

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire 2 – 3 Kindle Fire 2 Futures

Amazon has hit a new high (or low) in the Kindle Fire 2 Buzz Creation Cycle – It issued a Press Release to let everyone know Kindle Fire is out of stock.

In the last 9 days we have had 6 Kindle Fire 2 and Amazon Prime related Press Releases from Amazon –

  1. 21st – ESPN 30 for 30 Film Series Deal for Prime Instant Video.
  2. 22nd – India Kindle Store.
  3. 24th – Prime Video agreement with NBC.
  4. 27th – Prime Milestone of more items being shipped via Prime than via Free Supersaver Shipping.
  5. 30th – Amazon App Store launches in Europe. Suggesting very strongly that Kindle Fire 2 will be available in Europe at launch.
  6. 30th – Kindle Fire sold out.

Amazon’s external PR department today revealed an image of what is, supposedly, a rather unsexy looking Kindle Fire 2. It does have a front facing camera so you can take a photo of yourself and add instant sex appeal.

Update: Another source claims this is NOT the new Kindle Fire 2. Let’s hope not. It looks like Darth Vader rounded out the edges of a cereal box with a saber. Poor Darth Vader is going to get sued for billions – should have stuck with the safe old square corners.

Exciting Kindle Fire 2 Rumors – Including Dual eInk and LCD screens on OPPOSITE Sides

Here are various sites and blogs speculating about Kindle Fire 2 –

  1. The Next Web thinks Kindle Fire selling out means Kindle Fire 2 will be released on September 6th, and mentions rumors of a Kindle Phone.
  2. Reuters has an exclusive – Amazon is dropping Google Maps and going with Nokia Maps on Kindle Fire 2.
  3. PocketNow unveils an Amazon Patent for Dual Screens (filed on February 25th, 2011) – eInk Screen on one side and LCD screen on the other. So now you can show people you’re reading ‘The Cloud Atlas’ while reading ’50 Shades of Boring’.
  4. PocketLint says the new eInk Kindle, Kindle 5, will come with a Lighted Display called ‘Paperwhite’. Somebody smack the designer – he forgot to put page turn buttons on it. And what’s with all that fancy French writing. C’est tout simplement horrible – the lack of page buttons, not ze French.
  5. Apple Bloggers are all in various states of outrage – How dare someone ramp up a product launch using meaningless things like leaked product prototype images. Guess who forgot to get a patent on that marketing strategy.

Venture Beat points out Jeff Bezos’ mention of ‘an exciting roadmap ahead’

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wasn’t coy on what the move means. “Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead—we will continue to offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability, and the best content ecosystem,” he said in a statement today.

Surely, that translates to ‘Kindle Fire 2, Lades & Gentlemen. Just around the Patented Rounded Corner’.

Well, let’s explore the three possible Kindle Fire 2 Futures.

Kindle Fire 2 Future 1: Kindle Fire 2 really is something SPECIAL

Has Amazon managed to make a Kindle Fire 2 that is THE BEST TABLET AVAILABLE? Perhaps with some exciting new technology that sets the world on fire. Dual Screens. Mirasol Screen Technology. Free with Subscriptions. Magic LCD Screen. Grilled Cheese Sandwich Making Add-on. 27-Core Processor that still can’t boot in 5 seconds. SD Card. Volume Buttons. A Color other than Orange dominating the UI. Folders. No Carousel.

A shiny new screen technology seems the most likely. It’ll be Revolutionary.

That, by the way, is the most over-used word ever (with regards to tech devices). Everything’s revolutionary. George Washington and Simon Bolivar are pirouetting in their graves whilst every single gadget maker throws around the word revolutionary.

While a bit unlikely, it’s not completely impossible that Amazon has come up with something quite amazing. That Kindle Fire 2 is worth the hype and that Amazon’s inane Press Releases are half-justified. That Apple really has moved out the iPad Mini release to October to figure out how to counter the new and magical grilled cheese sandwich making Kindle Fire 2.

What happens if Kindle Fire 2 is really, really good?

Well, it starts taking up market share in US and Europe. Things become tougher for companies like B&N and Microsoft. Apple’s iPad Mini becomes less of a slam dunk.

Amazon keeps adding more and more mini-Amazon stores to users’ hands and wallets. Another step towards Total Amazonian World Domination – with Jeff Bezos laughing his crazy laugh while wearing a Pirate Eye Patch and standing on a giant Ark.

Probability: 30%.

Kindle Fire 2 Future 2: Kindle Fire 2 is Good but not Great

Unfortunately, the most likely possibility is that Amazon has analyzed product launches and figured out that 50% of what makes a great product launch is the buzz. You keep everyone involved and then its human nature to think – It must be good. Surely, I’m not an idiot and only an idiot would have waited 2 months for THIS.

Amazon thinks – we have a good Kindle Fire 2. Let’s hype it up and get everyone excited. Then, when it comes out and doesn’t make breakfast, people will think it must be amazing – it not making breakfast isn’t really a big deal.

Over the years you can see a definite pattern in how Amazon is modeling companies like Apple and Nintendo in creating demand and buzz. With the Kindle Fire 2 it’s almost doing too much. A Press Release to announce Kindle Fire 1 is sold out. Kindle Fire 2 better have a booster rocket that lets you fly to the Moon on weekends.

What happens if Kindle Fire 2 is good and not very extraordinary?

Everyone is a bit disappointed. Then they satisfice and say – It’s actually quite good. Look it has volume buttons. It even has a new shiny screen made with new shiny LCD technology. And no more of that horrendous shade of Orange everywhere.

Kindle Fire 2 sells very well.

Why? Because it’s hard to turn your back on a good product if you’ve built a vision in your head of it being great. It’s much easier to take the qualities it does have and satisfice.

Amazon would actually increase its market share of the Tablet Space and it would justify all the hype. Proving that anticipation does indeed turn a good product into a great sales success.

Probability: 66%.

Kindle Fire 2 Future 3: Kindle Fire 2 is a Disaster

The downside of hyping up a product release so much is that if, and let’s hope this is not the case, Kindle Fire 2 is unimpressive – Well, then a LOT of people are going to be very upset.

This is very unlikely. Amazon isn’t crazy enough to hype up a product that isn’t good. Perhaps Amazon’s a bit nervous about iPad Mini. Perhaps it’s wondering what happened to the 1 million a week Kindle Fire sales from last holiday season.

Unless Amazon is stupid and desperate (and the first is highly unlikely) it would not hype up a mediocre product.

What happens if Kindle Fire 2 is a Disaster?

The end of Amazon’s chances in the Tablet Space. That might happen even with a good Kindle Fire 2 (iPad Mini and/or 7″ Android Tablets and/or 7″ Windows 8 Tablets might be amazing and take over). However, if Amazon releases a terrible Kindle Fire 2, then it’s guaranteed that its Tablet hopes will remain just hopes.

Probability: 4%.

Conclusion: Amazon has features that it thinks makes Kindle Fire 2 an Absolute Winner

That’s my conclusion.

I’m not convinced Kindle Fire 2 is a total winner. If we look at the eInk Kindles of the past and the Kindle Fire – Well, Amazon has NEVER shown that it can make the best hardware.

However, it seems very clear that Amazon thinks it has cracked the code and made a really special Tablet this time. All the craziness and controlled leaks suggest that Amazon thinks this is THE ONE.

Will it be?

Well, we’re talking about a company that removed page turn buttons from eInk Kindles. A company that removed volume buttons from the Kindle Fire and came up with the ‘Carousel of Endless Confusion’ and took two years to add Folders to the eInk Kindle. What Amazon thinks is the Best Tablet Ever is a bit unlikely to be what customers would consider the Best Tablet Ever.

However, Amazon seems completely convinced that it has a huge winner on its hands. It is certainly proceeding as such.

Kindle Fire 2 seems to be the Tablet that Amazon wanted to ship all along. On September 6th we’ll find out if the Kindle Fire 2 hype is justified. While for one week there will be absolutely zero Kindle Fires sold.

Amazon Prime – Amazon’s Push for Amazon Prime might include Kindle Fire 2 subsidies

While looking for updated news regarding the new Kindles, I came across something very curious. It dawned on me that of the last 6 press releases from Amazon, 4 of them have a distinctive common thread – Amazon Prime.

Seven Days ago – 8/21  Amazon announced an expanded licensing agreement with ESPN which added  popular titles from the 30 for 30 film series available for Prime members.

Four days ago  — 8/24  Amazon announced an expanded agreement with NBC Universal, adding hundreds of  TV episodes to Prime Instant Video for Prime members.

Yesterday  8/27 — Amazon announced that its catalog of over 180,000 exclusive Kindle books have been purchased, downloaded, or borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library more than 100 million times. Nearly all of these exclusive books are available for Kindle owners with a Prime membership to borrow for free, as frequently as once a month, with no due dates.

Today  8/28 — Amazon announced that it now ships more items with Prime Free Two-Day Shipping than with Free Super Saver Shipping – the program Amazon launched in 2002 that offers free shipping on orders over $25. Currently, Amazon Prime offers 2 day shipping on over 15 million items from it’s online store.

In a nutshell, with a $79 annual Amazon Prime Membership you get:

  1. Free Two-Day Shipping on over 15 million items.
  2. No minimum order size.
  3. Unlimited instant streaming of more than 22,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Videos.
  4. A Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library of over 180,000 exclusive Kindle books.

Why the Push for Amazon Prime?

My best guess is that all this hype and hoopla about Amazon Prime means that the giant online retailer has something spectacular to show us during the Press Conference in Santa Monica on September 6th. The press conference is being held very close to Hollywood and the entertainment industry. My initial thoughts on this a few days ago was that Amazon would be promoting a new content provider, like a major network or studio. As it turned out, Amazon did expand their agreement with NBC Universal just 4 days ago. On August 21st, Amazon revealed an expanded licensing agreement that added popular titles from the ESPN 30 for 30 film series to Prime Instant Video.

Amazon now has agreements for the following networks and studios:

  • Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
  • NBC Universal Domestic Television
  • CBS Corp
  • Discovery
  • Fox
  • PBS
  • Sony
  • Disney-ABC Television Group
  • Paramount
  • Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM)
  • Viacom which brought along MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, BET, CMT and Logo
  • ESPN 30 for 30 film series

That’s nice and all but it’s not *spectacular*.

Purely Based On Rumor

What would be spectacular… the offering of a new Kindle Fire 2 — free and free movies with an Amazon Prime membership.

As awesome as this sounds, I’m not sure of the profitability of this for Amazon. The general consensus of everyone with an opinion in this matter, has been that the cost of a new Kindle Fire 2 will be $199 and the original Kindle Fire will drop in price. Amazon needs to keep the price of this new Kindle low to be able to level the playing field with other tablets such as Google’s Nexus 7 which sells their 8 GB device for $199 and $249 for the 16 GB device.

Purely Based On My Wild Imagination

Maybe these new Kindle 2’s will need data plans. That could explain the push for Prime. Downloading books and apps wouldn’t add much to a data plan, but I imagine streaming instant videos could break the bank if used heavily. Of course this data plan would come in handy with the introduction of another rumored device that may be unveiled at the press conference – the Amazon smart phone.

So they’re pushing the pure awesomeness of being an Amazon Prime Member – possibly giving away a new Kindle 2 with every Prime Membership – and then maybe nailing us to the wall with data plans while saying: ‘Hey, you got the Kindle 2 for free and we convinced (conned) you that you needed a data plan so as to enjoy all the great extras we have to offer – so why don’t you add an Amazon Smartphone to the mix?’

Now I can see profitability. Actually, I see the money meters spinning so fast they are nearly at a standstill.

But don’t forget – this is conjecture. And it’s my conjecture at that.

Wait! I’m not quite done here yet!

All my guesses, speculation and ramblings aside – there may be a very simple reason for the Prime push. It just may be that Amazon wants good customers. Prime Members are good customers. And loyal. Loyal customers will spend their money at Amazon. They will loyally and proudly purchase books, DVD’s, toys for the kiddies, electronics for the teens, groceries, clothing – yada yada yada, including the proverbial kitchen sink.

On the other hand, there exist the fair-weather customers. They’ll purchase the Kindle Fire on sale and well-pleased with their discount will run to the nearest Android rooting exit. Because they are not loyal, they will go elsewhere for all their online shopping needs.

Amazon doesn’t make a profit from fair weather customers but they do from first rate loyal customers. It just may be that the push for Prime benefits both Amazon and the loyal customers. They make a profit and we get a lot of bang for our buck with Amazon Prime. Hey, we gotta shop somewhere, don’t we? Why drive all over the web when you can shop at the biggest online retailer? Think of the gas you’ll save. 😉

I would love to hear what you think the push for Amazon Prime is about. Does it mean a free Kindle Fire 2 with a 3 year Prime membership? Data Plans? Bundled with Amazon Smartphone? What do you think Amazon is hoping to do?

Leave your comments – and please don’t flame the author (me) for my wild imagination. Thanks! 🙂