Kindle Tablet confirmed, update on a solid indie author

First, let’s look at indie author Stacy Juba. This is an author who seems very promising – so featuring her books. Let me know if you like the idea of a ‘Featured Indie Author of the Week’ post every week.

  1. Twenty Five Years Ago by Stacy Juba. Price: $1. Genre: Romantic Suspense, Historical Mystery. Rated 4.5 stars on 29 reviews.

    Kris Langley has always been obsessed with murder. She blames herself for the violent death of her cousin when they were kids and has let guilt invade every corner of her existence.

    Now an editorial assistant and obit writer for a Massachusetts newspaper, Kris stumbles across an unsolved murder while compiling “25 Years Ago Today” items from the microfilm. She grows fascinated with the case of a young cocktail waitress who was bludgeoned to death and dumped in the woods. Determined to solve the case and atone for the death of her cousin, Kris immerses herself in the mystery of what happened to Diana Ferguson

  2. Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba. Price: $1. Genre: Stalker & A Twisted Game, Game Show Contestants Getting Killed One by One, A Hunky Photographer. Rated 4.5 stars on 21 reviews. It’s rare for an indie book to have only 5-stars and 4-stars even after hitting 20+ reviews.

Next, let’s look at the Kindle Tablet, which is now quite officially on its way.

Jeff Bezos says ‘stay tuned’ on Kindle Tablet

Mr. Bezos has finally indirectly confirmed the Kindle Tablet (to Consumer Reports of all people – they probably threatened to write about Kindle’s Death Grip problem).

Via Consumer Reports we get this rather vague admission of the existence of a Kindle Tablet -

Asked today about the possibility of Amazon launching a multipurpose tablet device, the company’s president and CEO Jeff Bezos said to “stay tuned” on the company’s plans.

In an interview at Consumer Reports’ offices, Bezos also signaled that any such device, should it come, is more likely to supplement than to supplant the Kindle, which he calls Amazon’s “purpose-built e-reading device.”

What can be a surer sign of a Kindle Tablet being imminent than Mr. Bezos talking about how any such device, should/if/when it arrives, being a supplement to the Kindle?

He also shot down the possibility of a color eInk screen Kindle being imminent.

More Kindle Tablet Madness

That isn’t all the Kindle Tablet buzz. You’d think Apple were making the Tablet given the amount of speculation going on.

  1. Jason Perlow at ZDNet predicts that Amazon will use a tweaked version of Android 2.2. He points out that Amazon has been hiring a ton of Android developers and thinks Amazon might have been working on a Tablet OS (one based on Android) for over two years. His guesses are really smart.
  2. One of the commenters suggests the Kindle Tablet might have some special synergy with Windows. Given that Microsoft is suing B&N over Android but has a patent agreement with Amazon that synergy is rather likely.
  3. Analysts are falling over themselves trying to predict Kindle related revenue for 2011. They are setting some sky-high expectations (estimates include projected Kindle hardware sales revenue, projected Kindle Tablet sales revenue, and projected ebook sales revenue).

    Caris & Co. analyst Sandeep Aggarwal estimates in a report this week that the Kindle will generate revenues of more than $5.42 billion for Amazon in 2011 and “at least” $7.96 billion in revenue by 2012.

    The estimate is much higher than previous ones: In January, Barclays estimated that Kindle sales would reach just $3.3 billion in 2011.

It’s so interesting to see all these analysts’ estimates – In November 2007, they all thought Kindle was going to sell 40,000 units and then die out.

On the lack of evolution of eInk & potential 2011 Kindle Tablet

Two interesting bits of Kindle news today – one concerning eInk and its appalling lack of evolution, the other concerning the Kindle Tablet.

Why is eInk Allergic to Evolution?

eInk has become the equivalent of one of those prehistoric species of fish which you find alive and kicking even though it belongs in another era. It amazes you with its ability to not only survive for millenia but also refuse to evolve at all.

Consider the painfully slow evolution of eInk -

  1. Kindle 1. Released in November 2007. eInk with 4 shades of grey.
  2. Kindle 2 US. Released in Feb 2009. eInk with 16 shades of grey. Screen has higher contrast.
  3. Kindle DX. Released in summer 2009. eInk with 16 shades of grey. Similar contrast to Kindle 2 US.
  4. Kindle 2 International. Released in August or September 2009. eInk with 16 shades of grey. Screen has slightly higher contrast.
  5. Kindle DX International. Released in January 2010.
  6. Kindle DX 2. Summer 2010. eInk Pearl screen which had 50% better contrast.
  7. Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi. Summer 2010. eInk Pearl.

In the course of 3.5 years, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in price (from $399 for Kindle 1 to $139 for Kindle WiFi). However, improvement in eInk screen technology is limited to -

  • 16 shades of grey instead of 4 shades of grey.
  • Around 100% better screen contrast. Which isn’t all that much when you consider that it’s over the course of 3.5 years.

How can you sell 10 to 15 million eReader screens over 3.5 years and still manage to make zero major improvements in the screen technology?

Today, we get news courtesy Devin Coldewey at CrunchGear that eInk will not release any improved eInk screens this year. Here’s the magic section -

Speaking to CNET, E Ink’s Sri Peruvemba said that the company is actually more on a two-year cycle, and 2011 wouldn’t bring any advances from them, in the monochrome sector at least.

Presumably, they’ll be focusing on testing the next-gen screen and perhaps marketing and pushing the Triton color screens.

Let’s just go over that again -

  1. In the 3.5 years since the launch of the Kindle 1, the sole improvements in eInk screen technology are – 50% or so improvement in price, 100% improvement in contrast, going from 4 shades of grey to 16 shades of grey. 3.5 entire years.
  2. There isn’t a better eInk screen today – 10 months after Kindle 3 launched.
  3. There might not be a better eInk screen until a full 1.5 years after the launch of the Kindle 3.

eInk’s refusal to evolve at a respectable rate is becoming a gigantic liability.

Which brings us to the Kindle Tablet.

Is Amazon having Quanta produce 800,000 Kindle Tablets a month for the 2nd half of 2011?

The ever-dependable (for sometimes dependable rumors) DigiTimes makes big claims about the Kindle Tablet -

Taiwan-based notebook maker Quanta Computer has recently received OEM orders from Amazon for its reported tablet PC …

The device’s monthly orders during the peak season are expected to reach about 700,000-800,000 units and Quanta is expected to start shipping as soon as the second half of 2011 …

A few other nuggets in there -

  1. eInk (yes, that same eInk) will supply touch panels for the Kindle Tablet and will also provide Fringe Field Switching Technology.
  2. Quanta expects to earn Kindle Tablet related revenue of $3.5 billion in 2011.
  3. Quanta also makes tablet PCs for RIM and Sony. Probably not a good sign.

Finally, two rather interesting Kindle related snippets from that same article -

  1. Kindle still has strong sales. According to DigiTimes’ contact.
  2. Amazon plans on reducing Kindle’s price to attract demand from the education and consumer markets. It plans to do this in parallel with pushing the Kindle Tablet.

Very interesting news and there are just enough crazy sounding things in there to make this seem a valid lead. No one manufacturing a rumor would throw in that Quanta plans on making $3.5 billion in revenue from Kindle tablet manufacturing in 2011 itself.

Potential impact on Amazon, Kindle, Apple, and Google of the Nook Color App Store

Let’s start with a deal – Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer Mcmahon. Price: $1.99. Genre: Mystery-Thriller, Ghost Story, Past & Present. Rated 4 stars on 115 reviews.

Like the title of the book this post is full of ‘Promise Not to Tell’ things. A few that companies don’t want shared, a few that companies don’t realize.

Kindle just became a little bit less attractive to casual readers

Nook Color is a reading tablet that lets you check your email, browse the Internet on a color screen, play Angry Birds, and try out lots of apps. It even lets you hack it and run Kindle for Android. Casual readers will find it very, very compelling. It definitely beats the Kindle 3 for a portion of casual readers. As more and more apps get added that portion gets larger and larger.

Kindle just became a little bit more attractive to serious readers

B&N has pushed Nook Color firmly into the low-priced Tablet category. Serious readers are going to tend to pick the Kindle even more often than they used to. B&N has also handicapped the Nook 1 by making apps only available for Nook Color. It gives users the impression that B&N is discarding Nook 1 in favor of Nook Color.

Kindle 3 vs eInk Nook is going to turn into a massacre if B&N doesn’t release a Nook 2 soon.

Amazon is suddenly under even more pressure to release a Kindle Tablet

B&N’s Nook Color was a huge threat. However, most of the threat was its future potential to be a compelling low-price Tablet. A threat which, from Amazon’s perspective, was in the far distant future. Now, the Future is suddenly here. You have Pulse and Angry Birds on a Reading Tablet. You have lots of apps for children and Napster and Email.

The hard-core Apple people are never going to leave Apple. However, lots of other people want tablets and most of them don’t want to pay the Apple premium. If B&N’s Nook Color eats up the non-iPad tablet market there will be very little left for Amazon.

Nook Color is also likely to eat up a portion of the casual reader market. Readers who want a device they can read on and also check email on and surf on might be unwilling to pay $499 for an iPad 2 – but they might find the $249 Nook Color irresistible. Amazon needs a tablet to fight back - the Kindle is great for hard-core readers and for those casual readers who don’t want apps. For everyone else, Amazon has to have a Kindle Tablet.

The need for a Kindle Tablet to take on Nook Color becomes even more apparent when we consider the fact that Amazon wants to sell music and movies and games and TV shows. If B&N becomes the #1 Tablet for non-Apple people, Amazon gets locked out – perhaps permanently.

Apple couldn’t have dreamt that B&N would make Android a threat in tablets too

The rise of Android powered smartphones scared Apple into going with Verizon. Apple must have thought it was safe in Tablets - Unfortunately, B&N not only produced a compelling Android tablet, it produced one for $249. As a bonus, it inadvertently made the Nook Color easy to hack.

By releasing a decent app store (it’s decent given its B&N’s first attempt) B&N has transformed the Nook Color from Reading Tablet to Tablet even for people not willing to hack it.

This might be the single most important outcome of the Nook Color App Store – a competitor to the iPad that eats up the low-price Tablet market and the non-iPad Tablet market and becomes a huge force.

Every Android Device maker wants to/ought to/needs to build its own App Store

A few reasons why -

  1. The unrestricted nature of the Android Market means malware and low quality apps hurt the user experience.
  2. Android Market is a shambles. The focus on free and advertising (which is usually from Google – hence the focus on free) means developers who craft quality apps face huge difficulties when trying to make solid profit.
  3. Google promises lots of things with Android but you don’t get all the goods unless you follow Google’s rules. Android is free price-wise but device makers are discovering that there are lots of hidden costs.
  4. You’re exposed to the danger of things like Google tracking user information secretly.
  5. Android is just a moat for Google’s search (and a means to extend other moats like Google Maps and Navigation). More and more companies are realizing this and understanding the danger of relying on Google for an App Store.
  6. Why let Google take 30% from apps when you could get it for yourself?
  7. Why let Google have the power and control and relationship with developers when you could have it for yourself?

Basically, lots and lots of companies are re-growing the brain cells they killed in the haze of ‘Free Lunch & Free Drinks’ created by their friendly neighbourhood search engine.

Apple and Amazon are beginning to realize that B&N, of all companies, is a huge threat

Both Apple and Amazon worry about Google. Yet Google shows little interest in doing anything other than burning up markets it enters. It eats up customers of bad intent and ignores customers of good intent. It basically leaves all good-intent customers, who are willing to pay for quality products and services, to other companies.

Google is so focused on protecting search and beefing up its databases of user information (user location, user dreams/desires, user intent) that it simply doesn’t care that there might be profit in a market.

B&N is different – it’s going after paying customers, it’s going after customers of good intent.

This is hugely significant because both Apple and Amazon suffer. What happens is -

  1. Customers of bad intent take up a free offering from a company like Google or Facebook (a company that sells users and user information to advertisers and therefore doesn’t need to charge customers for the product – customers are the product).
  2. Customers of good intent that are not wedded to Apple or Amazon pick B&N.
  3. Customers of good intent who are wedded to either Apple or Amazon pick Apple or Amazon – despite the cost (Apple premium, delay in Kindle Tablet).

That second category is huge. It’s far more important than the 1st because no one is ever going to make hugely significant amounts of money from the first. You can check the balance sheet for YouTube and Facebook to confirm that – there isn’t as much money in customers of bad intent as there is in customers of good intent. Companies that cater to customers of bad intent are never going to make as much profit as companies that cater to customers with good, positive intent.

As far as Apple and Amazon are concerned, Google is doing them a favor – it’s separating the profitable customers from the unprofitable ones.

However, B&N is eating into profitable customers. Every customer of good intent who buys a Nook Color Reading Tablet is lost to Apple and Amazon.

B&N is in a position of huge power

Now it becomes clear why B&N wanted to buy itself or sell itself or do whatever it was trying to do. It saw itself as undervalued and was trying to buy up all of its stock at a bargain.

B&N has the best Android Tablet in a world hungry for a non-iPad Tablet.

Amazon is becoming careless

There’s no other way to explain what’s going on. It’s 6 months since the Nook Color was launched. It’s 4 months since B&N’s plans for the Nook Color (including email and an App Store) became apparent.

How can you not react for this long?

Apple has created a new market (Tablets) and left a large part of it for other companies. All the Android-powered Tablets (except Nook Color) have failed to take advantage. The non-iPad Tablet market is there for the taking.

Why is Amazon letting B&N get the first shot? Why is it letting B&N be the only company taking a shot?

Kindle Tablet has gone from important to critical

A huge part of Amazon’s digital ambition now hinges on the Kindle Tablet.

Amazon needs a channel to customers to sell its digital offerings -

  1. Books.
  2. Music.
  3. Movies.
  4. TV shows.
  5. Games and Casual games.

Amazon.com is one channel, but it’s dependent on other websites and on search engines and on the Internet. It’s also not with customers 24/7.

The Kindle is one channel – but it only covers books (and potentially physical goods). Additionally, the Kindle does not cover all casual readers.

A Kindle Tablet becomes critical – a pure, direct channel to customers that no other company can tax or interfere with. A channel without middle-men.

A Kindle Tablet becomes even more critical when you consider the fact that mobile devices like the iPhone are locking up customers. These devices are not just charging a tax (the way Google does) - they are literally locking out Amazon.

Amazon understands the power of controlling a direct channel to customers. It’s seen it with Amazon.com, and it’s seen it with the Kindle. It knows the Kindle Tablet is important. What it perhaps doesn’t realize, is that the Kindle Tablet is critical. No amount of incremental improvement is going to save Amazon if it gives up a huge first mover advantage to both the iPad and the Nook Color.

Kindle Tablet likely to be out in 2011

The Kindle might soon get a new family member – a Kindle Tablet.

In the latest sign that Amazon is building a Kindle Tablet, it’s announced an Amazon Android App Store. This is a huge move, and there are lots of ways to look at it.

What might an Android App Store from Amazon mean?

The possibilities -

  1. Amazon is getting ready to release a Kindle Tablet built on Android.
  2. Amazon wants to protect Kindle for Android. If it runs the store, it can make sure Kindle for Android stays in the store, and gets enough exposure.
  3. Amazon sees an opportunity to turn every Android device into an extension of the Amazon store. It wants to turn Android customers/owners into Amazon customers.
  4. It sees an opportunity to create a high quality App Store for those Android users  who have good intent. The ones that don’t mind paying a dollar or two for apps free of advertising and malware.
  5. It’s getting a channel in place to compete against Apple.

We can keep circling through possible motivations Amazon might have - This new App Store might have to do with Amazon keeping its channel to Android users open, or Amazon might want to become the default app store for Android device manufacturers.

At the moment, the second biggest reason might be keeping Kindle for Android safe. Once the store is in place, it could be used to extend Amazon’s reach to revenue streams other than ebooks.

The likeliest possibility, in my opinion, is that Amazon has a Kindle Tablet ready for launch in 2011, and it wants lots of good quality apps. If Amazon releases a Kindle Tablet, you can bet it would have its own layer over Android, and that Amazon would have total control over the app store.

How is the Amazon Android Store going to be different? Does it have a chance?

Amazon’s Kindle Tablet will probably ship with the Amazon App Store built-in. The interesting question is - 

Does Amazon’s new store have a chance with non-Amazon Android Tablets and phones?

Actually, it does.

Amazon’s Android app store will follow a curated model – developers have to get approval, apps shouldn’t crash, apps have to be safe, apps have to do what they say they do.

It’s Amazon telling device manufacturers and customers – Let us filter out the bad apps and the low quality apps.

  1. The existing Android Market leaves it to customers to decide what’s good and what’s not, and to decide what’s evil and what’s not. It also focuses, intentionally or unintentionally, on free, advertising-supported apps.
  2. Amazon sounds like it’ll be checking for users – to make sure apps are legitimate. It also sounds like it’ll focus more on paid apps, though we don’t know for sure. It has a very strange pricing policy - it says it might discount your apps to ‘maximize revenue’.
  3. Amazon is saying it’ll provide recommendations. You have to suspect it’ll be able to do a much better job than existing Android App Stores. It certainly has more experience of selling the right things to customers than any other Android App Store.
  4. Amazon will also integrate its 1-click payment system. Here, again, Amazon’s existing customer experience, not to mention its existing customer base, will come in very handy.

Thanks to TechCrunch for a lot of details on the Amazon App Store.

Amazon’s App Store sounds a lot like Apple’s App Store – focus on quality apps, focus on a great shopping experience, apps get reviewed, the store has a lot more control, recommendations, easy payments.

It also sounds like something Android device makers might prefer over the default Android Market App Store.

One way in which it’s different from the Apple iPhone App Store is that it’s US-only at launch. It launches sometime this year, and it certainly shakes up things.

Signs that Amazon’s Android App Store is for a Kindle Tablet

There are a few signs that Amazon is working on a Kindle Tablet, and a few signs that its new Android App Store is for this new Kindle Tablet.

  1. There’s no reason to delay the Android App Store launch until some unspecified date in the future. It sounds an awful lot like the launch depends on another launch – perhaps that of the Kindle Tablet.
  2. Given the success of the Kindle, and the type of hiring Lab 126 has been doing (Lab 126 is the Amazon subsidiary that created the Kindle, it’s been hiring a lot of Tablet and Gaming executives), it’s quite likely Amazon is working on more hardware devices. A Tablet makes the most sense given Amazon sells downloads of games, movies, music, and TV shows.
  3. There have been a lot of rumors that Amazon is working on an Android powered Tablet. Amazon related rumors are a bit hit and miss so this might mean nothing.
  4. Qualcomm has mentioned finding a big buyer for its Mirasol color ePaper screens. A buyer big enough that Qualcomm invested $2 billion into a Mirasol production facility. It’s not impossible that Amazon plans to introduce a Mirasol powered Kindle tablet – a tablet that runs for a month at a time. The downside would be that it wouldn’t handle movies very well.
  5. Amazon has KindleTablet dot com registered and ready to go. 

Here’s an article from ZDNet on the new Amazon Android App Store. It includes a link to an article speculating on ‘Kindle’s secret sibling’ – an Android powered Kindle Tablet.

It’s almost become a shared rumor – that a Kindle Tablet is in the works. Almost every site is writing about it, and speculating about it. The new App Store from Amazon makes a lot more sense if there’s a Kindle Tablet arriving in 2011. It fact, it makes perfect sense.

Kindle Tablet might be coming, 2 free kindle thrillers

First, the 2 free kindle thrillers -

  1. Velocity by Alan Jacobson.

    Starred Review. Jacobson’s third thriller featuring FBI profiler Karen Vail (after Crush) sizzles with nonstop action and startling details about drug trafficking. When Karen’s lover, Det. Robby Hernandez, disappears in California’s Napa Valley while she’s busy catching John Wayne Mayfield, the notorious Crush Killer,  Karen is horrified to learn that she may have blown Robby’s cover. As part of a DEA operation, Robby was investigating drug cartel kingpin Carlos Cortez and his associates …

  2. The 7th Victim by Alan Jacobson.

    Jacobson’s third novel (after False Accusations and The Hunted) has all the ingredients for a best-selling psychological thriller: strong female lead, multifaceted serial killer, compelling plot, and just enough secrets and surprises to keep the adrenaline racing. The hunt is on for the notorious Dead Eyes killer who is preying on young women.

    Karen Vail is a gritty yet vulnerable FBI profiler with a precarious personal life. As Vail and the task force pursue the serial killer, readers are drawn into the inner sanctum of a profiler while simultaneously privy to the killer’s crazed thoughts.

Amazon’s certainly feeling generous today – 9 free books in 1 day.

Next, we explore the possibility that the Kindle 3 soon gets a new family member.

Kindle Tablet around the corner – so says TechCrunch 

TechCrunch talks about a Kindle Tablet tip it got last week -

last week, before we knew that, we got an interesting tip that such a move was coming soon — this week, actually.

And that tip came with a bonus attached — the tipster also heard that Amazon was going to be releasing an iPad competitor alongside the store

Really?

A Kindle Tablet and a Kindle Android App Store in the same week. That seems a bit of a stretch. If we really get the Amazon Android App Store this week and it’s accompanied by a Tablet that would be the biggest Amazon release since the Kindle.

It’s interesting that TechCrunch only remembered its anonymous tipster after various developers confirmed they had been approached by Amazon for an app store. It’s also interesting that the tipster provided zero details about the tablet.

For all we know it might just be Amazon recruiting developers for the Kindle App Store. Still, it’s fun to speculate.

There are lots of interesting comments at TechCrunch -

* I wonder if the Kindle is being secretly upgraded to Android in support of this app store venture.

* I knew this (Amazon Android App Store) was linked to an Amazon device. It was the only thing that made sense.

* I can see them selling/renting tv shows through their app store. That would be super awesome.

* The Android Marketplace is somewhat of a mess. Walled gardens can keep out weeds. VCast (Verizon’s Android App Store) will be more of a walled garden, and I bet so will Amazon’s store too.

It’s rather unlikely that the Kindle would move to Android. The far likelier possibility is that Amazon wants to replicate for movies and TV and games the Kindle model that has worked so well for books. It has probably decided an Android tablet is the way to do it.

If TechCrunch is right then we might soon find out exactly what the Kindle Tablet is and exactly what it’s capable of.

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