Kindle Fire musings, Kobo Vox as the Dark Horse, Nook Color 2 thoughts

The Kindle Fire is available now for $199 at Amazon.

Earlier Version of Post:

The Kindle Fire will be revealed tomorrow – here’s some pointless speculation nonetheless.

Will Kindle Fire set things on fire?

Opinions are divided and it seems that there’s little guarantee Amazon’s Kindle Fire Tablet is going to dominate the non-iPad market.

  • Amazon has a wealth of advantages when it comes to making a consumption Tablet i.e. Prime, MP3 store, Kindle Store, AWS, lots of infrastructure, lots of customers, great customer experience, etc. Will that be enough? Will that overcome the fact that they haven’t built this Kindle Fire Tablet from the ground up themselves?
  • The Kindle was in the work for 4 years before release. It’s been 4 years since that first Kindle. We are talking about a total of 8 years. How much time has Amazon spent on Kindle Fire?
  • What is going to be the Kindle Fire’s killer feature? Will it have more than one?
  • Amazon seems to be tending towards ‘value for money’ and offering free Prime streaming and ‘Special Offers’. That might work well. However, it suggests that the focus is the low-priced Tablet market and not the iPad.
  • It’s logical but disappointing that Amazon is targeting Nook Color instead of iPad.
  • Will Amazon actually hit $199? Seems really hard to believe they can pull that off.
  • Will the closed nature of the Kindle Fire (probably, almost certainly) turn off people interested in Android Tablets? Will hacks and workarounds convince people to buy it (and root it later)?
  • Is Android too much of a disadvantage (in terms of user experience)? Will Amazon’s custom UI solve that problem?

There are a lot more questions than answers.

Also interesting are the Kindle related musings the launch of the Kindle Fire inspires.

  1. How will Kindle Fire affect Amazon’s focus on the Kindle?
  2. Is it that the Press is focused only on Kindle Fire and that makes it seem Amazon has shifted focus to the Kindle Tablet? There are rumors that the Kindle Team (Lab 126) refused to work on the Tablet and wanted to focus on Kindle. If it’s true I’ll gladly buy any/all of them a drink any time they are in Montreal. A sentiment that probably every Kindle owner shares. Here is the snippet -

    Amazon’s own Kindle group (called Lab 126) apparently opted not to take on the project, in favor of continuing to work solely on next-gen E-Ink-based devices.

    From there, Amazon’s team determined they could build a tablet without the help and experience of Lab 126, so they turned to Quanta

  3. If the previous point is true then it means the one team at Amazon best suited to making a Kindle Tablet didn’t take part. Not a good sign.

Kindle Fire (that name is getting annoying very quickly) is really interesting. Really, really interesting launch for Amazon.

Kobo Vox strikes like the pox?

We found out today about the Kobo Vox eReader Tablet. Kobo joining the party is great and it must worry both B&N and Amazon.

  1. Kobo has very little to lose and can take big risks. Neither B&N nor Amazon can.
  2. It’s global. While B&N only competes with Amazon in the US, Kobo puts pressure on Amazon in lots of markets.
  3. Kobo has done things it doesn’t get much credit for – First $150 eReader, first company to compete with Amazon in lots of markets, their Reading Life feature, lots of coupons and discounts, sells to any device (since its books are in ePub format). It’s more dangerous than people realize.
  4. Both Nook Touch and Kobo Touch are strong competitors to Kindle 3. Amazon has tremendous advantages – But on a device-only basis both Nook Touch and Kobo Touch probably edge the Kindle 3. This suggests that Kobo Vox might give Kindle Fire a real run for its money.
  5. It’s choice. Kobo as a third choice is valuable for the market. Kobo as a second choice in lots of countries is valuable. Kodo as a second choice for ePub Books is very valuable for Nook Color and Sony Reader owners.

Kobo impresses me more every day. You expect it to die out and yet it keeps coming back and keeps putting pressure on Amazon and B&N to evolve faster.

That brings us to the Tablet that we know the least about.

Nook Color 2 – Does B&N really have two Tablets up its sleeve?

If Nate the Great’s B&N has 2 Tablets sources are correct, then B&N is showing more ambition than Amazon and will have -

  1. A $249 Nook Color 2 that is an improvement over the existing $249 Nook Color. You have to imagine that a year of experience and customer feedback gives B&N lots of opportunity to improve what is already a delightful device (better screen than iPad 1, great as a Reading Tablet, etc.).
  2. A $349 Nook Color 2 Acclaim that is focused on gaming and comes with add-ons like a better screen and perhaps more memory.

If this is true then -

  1. B&N is doing what Amazon should have been doing.
  2. It’s sad that instead of leading and innovating in the Tablet space, or even keeping up with iPad and Nook Color (Tablet and Reading Tablet respectively), Amazon is lagging behind by a year or more.
  3. Nook Color must be a pretty big success. For B&N to release two new variants.
  4. B&N is embracing the fact that its Nook business is effectively a billion dollar business. With a good Nook Color 2 and an even better Nook Color 3 B&N could turn it into a $5 billion business in the next 3 years.
  5. Can something designed by Quanta compete effectively with Nook Color 2? How much of a difference will Amazon’s backing make?

If the Gdgt article is true and Kindle Fire is just a PlayBook variant, then it would be extremely disappointing. There’s something special when a company makes a device from the ground up (such as the Kindle). Amazon really should prioritize purity of the device and its purpose over everything else.

Kindle Fire Kindle Tablet

Kindle Fire is the name for the new Kindle Tablet. Kindle Fire supposedly distinguishes it from the plain old Kindle.

Whatever you might think of ‘Kindle Fire’ as a name, Amazon deserves major kudos for choosing a short name.

Full details at the Kindle Fire Kindle Tablet post.

**********Older Version

Thanks to TechCrunch who revealed this huge Kindle Fire scoop (tomorrow’s huge scoop is what the name of the cover for the Kindle Tablet will be – and no, it’s not Kindle Fire Extinguisher).

Kindle Fire shall be -

  1. Ready to ship in the second week of November. This again suggests that Kindle Fire is trying to steal the Nook Color 2′s thunder and acclaim. Why announce Kindle Fire an entire 7 weeks before ship date?
  2. Kindle Fire will be a 7″ backlit Tablet.
  3. It’s manufactured by Quanta – the same company that designed the PlayBook from BlackBerry (which isn’t exactly good news).
  4. Kindle Fire has a custom version of Android. Which is supposedly built on Android 2.1.
  5. It comes with lots and lots of magazines.
  6. There are strong rumors that there will be a free membership to Amazon’s Prime Movie Streaming Service (not clear whether Prime shipping will be included or not).
  7. Amazon signed a deal with Fox for movies and TV shows this past weekend and that means shows like Arrested Development will be available.
  8. Kindle Fire has a Texas Instruments dual-core OMAP chip.

Overall, it seems almost certain that Amazon will reveal the Kindle Fire Kindle Tablet on Wednesday and that it will go head to head against Nook Color 2.

Kindle Fire vs Nook Color 2

What do we know so far?

Kindle Tablet is called Kindle Fire. Nook Color 2 is code-named Encore and Acclaim (there are supposedly two models - thanks to Nate at The Digital Reader for the scoop). The lower end model with be $249 and the higher end model will be $349.

Kindle Fire will probably compete directly with the $249 lower-end Nook Color 2.

Both will have 7″ screens. Both will retail at $249.

Kindle Fire supposedly doesn’t have an email client. Nook Color 2 will have an in-built email client (Nook Color 1 does, and B&N aren’t likely to remove it).

Kindle Fire arrives in mid November. Nook Color 2 arrives in mid October. Both of these are rumored dates.

The $349 Nook Color 2 might be a gaming Tablet and it might be the same one GameStop (a spin-off from B&N) is testing.

Side Note: No news on Kindle 4. B&N is, supposedly, also releasing a new eInk based eReader.

Kindle Fire or Nook Color 2 – Which looks more promising?

It’s really hard to say.

Nook Color 2 is a second generation device. It also has a higher end model that might be anything – higher screen resolution, more power, a different focus than reading.

Kindle Fire might come with a free Prime account and that would mean free 2-day delivery from Amazon. At the minimum it will come with free streaming video service from Amazon.

It seems that Amazon might release a Tablet that is more of a connection to Amazon.com and to Amazon’s services like Kindle Store and MP3 Store. B&N might go with a $249 model that continues the Nook Color 1 tradition of being a Reading Tablet.

The wild card is the $349 Nook Color 2. Will B&N be bold enough to create a general purpose Tablet? I think it will.

Kindle Fire vs Nook Color 2 might be just one part of what happens this holiday season. B&N, with its $349 higher end Nook Color 2 model, promises to make things far more interesting than just a battle of Reading Tablets.

Kindle Tablet or Kindle 4 Press Conference on Sep 28th

Amazon just sent out an invite (via email) for what promises to be a Kindle Tablet or Kindle 4 Press conference -

Note: You can find Kindle 3 here.

  1. Wednesday, September 28th. 
  2. At 10 am.
  3. In New York City. Interesting choice of city. 
  4. It’s run by The Outcast Agency. 
  5. It’s billed as ‘An Amazon.com Press Conference’.

Update: Here’s an image from the Email.

Kindle Tablet is probably going to be announced

Kindle Tablet Cometh

Really?

Why not just call it a Kindle Tablet Conference?

This is very, very interesting. It’s almost certainly an announcement of the Kindle Tablet. Wish it also includes a Kindle 4 announcement.

It’s almost certainly designed to steal the thunder from the Nook Color 2 announcement. The timing (Nook Color 2 is rumored to launch in end September/early October) suggests that Kindle Tablet is aimed at the Nook Color and not the iPad 2.

Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 (comparison + predictions)

It seems that in addition to the Kindle vs Nook contest we will have a Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 contest in 2011 Holiday Season.

At this point we only have nebulous details and it’s still fascinating to contrast what we know about each tablet and do a Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 comparison.

Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 – Price and Value for Money

B&N surprised everyone by releasing a really good Nook Color Reading Tablet for $249. We’re talking about a 7″ Tablet with an IPS screen with a density of 169 pixels per inch, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB memory, and a solid 800 Mhz processor.

It’s incredible value for money. Nook Color 2 is very likely to continue the trend. Expect a few improvements technically and a $249 price.

The rumors about the Kindle Tablet suggest that it will be $250 and will come with free Amazon Prime Membership. It’s quite likely that the free Prime membership will make the Kindle Tablet better value for money. Add on the fact that Amazon can sell Kindle Tablet owners lots of things (not just books) and we see why Amazon will have no problems beating Nook Color 2 in value for money.

Kindle Tablet gets the edge in value for money.

Please Note: Nearly all Kindle Tablet conjecture is based on this uncharacteristically good and balanced post at TechCrunch.

Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 – First Generation vs Second Generation 

It’s worth noting that Nook Color 2 will have a year’s worth of experience and customer feedback. B&N has had a year to see how a Reading Tablet does, what customer pain points are, and how to deal with them.

Kindle Tablet is a first generation device. While Amazon can leverage the lessons it learnt from selling the Kindle, there is still a lot it hasn’t tried before.

B&N gets the clear edge here.

Predicted Sales for Kindle Tablet and Nook Color 2

An analyst has predicted Amazon might ship 5 to 10 million Kindle Tablets in 2011 Holiday Season. The 5 million figure would be wildly optimistic but is also quite possible.

Wildly optimistic because there might not be a Kindle Tablet market.

Quite possible because Amazon might eat up large portions of – The Nook Color Market, The Android Tablet Market, The iPad Market.

DigiTimes expects 2 to 3 million Nook Colors to be shipped in 2011.

My predictions:

  1. 4 to 7 million Kindle Tablets. Sold out 3 weeks before Christmas.
  2. 3 million Nook Color 2s. Sold out by mid-November 2011.

Both companies are underestimating the demand for a cheap, high quality tablet. B&N’s main problem will be creating awareness for the Nook Color 2 and it will be helped greatly by all the ‘Kindle Tablet is a Nook Color Killer’ articles.

Amazon will win and B&N will be very happy (and it might end up with more total Nook Colors than there are Kindle Tablets).

Which Reading Tablet will be better for reading?

This is a very tough question.

Firstly, Nook Color is a very impressive reading device. The pros – great size, readable screen, readable at night, focus on reading, color, touchscreen, powerful processor. The cons – weight is a bit of a pain, no eInk so not as easy on the eyes, bright sunlight kills reading like it would a vampire, battery life is nothing like eReaders.

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons and Nook Color is an effective Reading Tablet.

The big concern with Kindle Tablet is that Amazon sells movies and music and TV shows and will probably make a device optimized for consuming those as well as books.

B&N has the edge unless Amazon ends up releasing a pure Reading Tablet.

Please Note: If you fall into the 10% of the population that are not distracted ever from what you intended to do, then this point doesn’t apply to you.

Nook Color App Store vs Kindle Tablet App Store

Nook Color has a fledgling app store with 550 or so Apps. There are some big ones like Angry Birds and Ms. PacMan but it’s still a small and growing store.

Amazon’s Android App Store has tens of thousands of Apps and lots of big names and a ‘Free App of the Day’ feature guaranteed to get you more zero-price sales than you would think possible.

Amazon has a very clear edge here. B&N has 3 months to beef up its store but is unlikely to ever catch up in terms of numbers.

The Lack of Openness and Care Bear Worthiness of Both Devices

Unlike companies that are OPEN and GOOD and steal your information while you’re not looking, B&N and Amazon are EVIL and make you pay for stuff before getting it. Part of this means that they take Android (an OS meant to be pure and unsullied by anything other than advertising and data collection) and dirty it with their custom OS layers and the concept of paying for apps and content.

For Nook Color 2 it’s easy to root and run Android and get everything for free.

For Kindle Tablet it’ll be close to impossible.

B&N gets the edge here as hackers and people who were Born to Demand Free will embrace its hackable qualities.

User Interface and Screen and Touch

Coupling these together because they go well together.

Nook Color 2 has a surprisingly well done user interface. The screen is splendid. Touch has some problems (touch at the edge isn’t great and sometimes touch and typing aren’t smooth).

Amazon is making its own entire user interface over Android (a good decision considering how unappealing Android can be visually). It promises to be sharp and snappy and very Kindly in its colors and feel.

This is an unknown until the two devices are out. It’s Amazon’s experience with user interfaces on the web competing with B&N’s already good interface and its year of Tablet experience.

Specifications – Which Reading Tablet will be more loaded?

B&N did a stunning job with Nook Color. There really are no words to do justice to a Reading Tablet for $250 that includes as many goodies as the Nook Color has.

Amazon may or may not match that spec-sheet with the Amazon Kindle Tablet. If it doesn’t – it’ll be rather unfortunate. If it does - movies and games will be really impressive on the Kindle Tablet.

B&N holds the edge here unless Amazon shows it can match the Nook Color’s impressive specs.

Which Reading Tablet will be more Fun?

Tough question.

Don’t really have an answer. After seeing both, and playing with both, will add an update.

Which Reading Tablet will be better for Kids and Families with Kids?

B&N has put HUGE emphasis on making things good for Kids. Perhaps its retail experience has taught it that kids determine book sales quite often. Perhaps everyone at B&N has kids and wants a device they can use. Whatever the reason, B&N’s Nook Color is very good for kids.

This is also reflected in things like NOOKKids (a software app for kids) and via a focus on books and apps for kids (for the Nook Color).

Amazon hasn’t really shown any desire to focus on kids. It might or it might not focus on kids with the Amazon Kindle Tablet. Prime and Sharing will be good for families but don’t think there will be much of an emphasis on kids.

B&N will probably have the edge.

Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 – Customer Support

Amazon is pretty darn good at customer support.

B&N’s big selling point will be in-store help and the ability to actually play with a device in store before buying it.

However, overall, Amazon’s ruthless focus on customer service will probably win out.

Thoughts

It’s very strange that Amazon would target Nook Color 2 instead of targeting iPad 2. It’s smart because it’s obviously a more reasonable target. However, it’s unlike Amazon to go for a smaller target.

Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 is definitely going to change things. It’s going to make Reading Tablets a bigger force. It’s going to put downward pressure on Tablet prices. It’s going to accelerate the rise of ebooks. It might just sell 8 million non-iPad Tablets in 2011 and show there’s a HUGE market for Tablets of all sorts – especially reasonably priced ones. Kindle Tablet vs Nook Color 2 is going to give rise to two winners and might just cement Kindle Tablet and Nook Color 2 as the 2nd and 3rd most popular Tablets (a scenario that absolutely no one would have dreamt of a few years ago).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,227 other followers