Now that the Kindle 3 is out and making waves there are people wondering what B&N and Sony have planned. Well, both companies are understandably circumspect about what they’re doing.
Let’s look at Sony and B&N’s Kindle 3 reactions and then dig into what they might really have planned. First, a quick refresher on Kindle 3 improvements.
23 Kindle 3 Improvements in a Nutshell courtesy Greg
Greg at the official Kindle forum points out 22 cool improvements in the Kindle 3 -
- 50% better contrast than K2
- crisper, darker fonts
- 21% smaller than K2 (1/2″ thinner, 1/2″ shorter, same screen size)
- 17% lighter than K2 (only 8.5 ounces)
- 20% faster page turns
- soft textured back
- Unicode font support (Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese Traditional and Simplified, Korean, Greek)
- TTS menu navigation
- super quiet buttons
- sturdier 5-way
- supports battery-free reading light built into case
- longer battery life (1 month per charge)
- twice the storage than K2
- unlimited free delivery of personal docs (via Wi-Fi)
- adjustable contrast when reading PDFs
- 2 dictionaries
- PDF highlighting/notes/dictionary-lookup support
- free wireless Audible audiobook delivery (via Wi-Fi)
- Wi-Fi web browsing with Fit to Width, Zoom-in options, Actual Size, and Article Mode
- cheaper price ($139 Graphite, Wi-Fi only)
Until Someday chimes in with a 23rd that missed my eye -
I think my favorite thing isn’t even on your list… the fact that there’s a previous and next button on both sides!
This is now one of my favorites because it creates symmetry and having previous page on the right really helps for one-handed reading.
Those 23 improvements, including some stellar ones, put the Kindle 3 far ahead of Nook and Sony Reader - Unless you are wedded to library books, ePub, or Kindle envy.
Kindle 3 Reactions – The Party Line
Sony actually expects us to believe it isn’t going to do anything. An article from Forbes on Sony’s Kindle 3 non-reaction has this response -
“Pricing is one consideration in the dedicated reading device marketplace, but Sony won’t sacrifice the quality and design we’re bringing book lovers to lay claim to the cheapest eReader,”
Sony immediately hedges its bets -
Asked about the possibility of a future price shift, a Sony spokeswoman told Forbes the company has “nothing to announce at this time regarding a price move.”
Lubell’s statement, she said, “reflects broader thinking around [Sony's] strategy moving forward.”
Basically, Sony released a knee-jerk reactionary statement hinting that none of its new Sony Readers are priced at $139. The spokeswoman is saying that once Sony gets its thinking straight again it’ll figure out the best Kindle 3 response.
B&N wants to make Apple-like Nook Stores inside its stores
New York Times has news of B&N’s Kindle 3 reaction -
In September, the chain will begin an aggressive promotion of its Nook e-readers by building 1,000-square-foot boutiques in all of its stores, with sample Nooks, demonstration tables, video screens
That’s not a bad strategy though you have to wonder why B&N would think that’s enough. Well, it doesn’t.
If NY Times stopped trawling for researchers willing to write nonsense about LCD and eInk screens it might figure out that Nook 2 is already approved by the FCC.
Why is it that the main stream press is writing articles claiming that B&N’s reaction to Kindle 3 is in-store mini-stores when a Nook 2 is FCC approved and imminent?
Kindle 3 Reactions – The Real Strategy
Let’s take a moment and review what’s happened. The Kindle 3 has taken everyone by surprise.
No one expected Kindle 3 to be what it is
The Kindle DX 2 was DX 1.7 and Kindle 2 was Kindle 1.5.
That’s what everyone expected – 1 or 2 killer features and 3 or 4 improvements and a solid and unremarkable Kindle 2.7. They expected Amazon to release a slightly better Kindle 3 and make it a success based on its advantages - Kindle Store and Kindle WhisperNet.
Instead we got a real Kindle 3. There are 23 improvements out of which a lot are killer features.
Here are the 11 that would be strong candidates in my opinion -
WiFi, price (Kindle WiFi for $139 especially), eInk Pearl Screen with 50% better contrast.
20% faster page turns, 3 Font choices and improved fonts, very light and compact Kindle.
Voice Guide for true accessibility when combined with TTS, 1 month battery life, much-improved PDF support.
CJK fonts and Cyrillic fonts, WebKit browser with Article Mode.
There are a lot of solid features packed into Kindle 3 and at least 5, and perhaps as many as 10, are killer features. No other eReader (except for Intel’s $1,500 Reader) is accessible to blind readers. No other eReader has the eInk Pearl screen. The $139 price is the lowest in the market. The CJK font support is a first.
It’s taken us all by surprise. It’s taken the press by surprise (lots of people are questioning whether the eReader wars are over). It’s taken B&N and Sony by surprise too.
The National Federation for the Blind took a break from suing Universities running Kindle DX trials to write a letter commending Amazon for Kindle 3.
If that isn’t a sign that Kindle 3 is a game-changer don’t know what is.
B&N is rethinking its strategy and revealing the safest part
Notice how B&N only talks about something Amazon couldn’t possibly replicate – Nook Mini-Stores in B&N’s retail stores. It has a Nook 2 that’s approved by the FCC and ready to head out. There are probably 10 different Nook 2 things it could reveal.
However, B&N couldn’t have expected 23 improvements in Kindle 3 and definitely not a $139 Kindle WiFi with a new generation screen that makes the Nook WiFi obsolete (unless you love ePub, or are hooked to library books).
B&N is going to sit down and figure out how to make the Nook 2 a comparable value proposition to Kindle 3. If Nook 2 doesn’t have eInk Pearl it’s in trouble. However, Nook 2 probably does have eInk Pearl. B&N will figure out how to add enough features to make Nook 2 a worthy challenger to Kindle 3 and then reveal what it is. Perhaps as early as Monday. Perhaps in parallel with its September push (the Nook mini-stores open early September).
Sony might have a real surprise
The first inclination to Sony’s rather defensive reaction is that it’s completely stunned. However, this is a company that makes very good eReaders. The reason it’s been losing ground is because it fails to provide a good bookstore and completely misses the ‘eReader as a service’ part.
My feeling is that Sony has either gotten touch to work with eInk Pearl OR it has some feature it feels is enough of an advantage that it can talk about quality and about not compromising on price. That feature might be an integration with Google Books and that would mean Sony Readers built on Android and perhaps even with Android Apps.
Sony has the least to lose and it can do some really crazy things – It may very well decide to give up the ebook revenue stream (or even try to destroy it) just so it can sell Sony Readers.
Kindle 3 vs Nook 2 vs Sony Readers – August is the Month
It’s easy to disregard the signs (Nook 2 approval at FCC, Sony selling its Touch Edition Reader for $170 with a $25 gift card). However, it’s pretty apparent that the new Sony Readers and Nook 2 are imminent.
An impressive Kindle 3 means both companies have to scramble to make their offerings as compelling. However, we still ought to see an August release (first week of September at the latest).
It’s only when Nook 2 and the new Sony Readers are released that we’ll see their real strategy to take on the Kindle 3.