$100 Kindle WiFi on Black Friday to match Nook WiFi?

Thanks to Lucy S. we know that Best Buy will offer the Nook WiFi at $100 on Black Friday.

The Nook WiFi normally retails at $149, $10 more than the $139 Kindle WiFi, so a $100 price is a huge bargain. Best Buy’s Black Friday flyers pretty much confirm the Nook WiFi will sell for just $100.

Given that it’s Black Friday and the start of the most important retail period of the year it’s hard to imagine Amazon will not match this offer by offering Kindle WiFi for $100 or $110.

$100 Kindle WiFi – Why Amazon might not have a choice 

On paper the Kindle WiFi outpaces the Nook WiFi. Kindle WiFi comes with the new eInk Pearl screen, it has text to speech, performs better, and now even has Kindle Apps of two different types to back it up.

However, the Nook WiFi supports ePub, supports library books, and is available at a lot more retail stores than the Kindle – including at WalMart and at every B&N store. At $100 it clearly becomes a more compelling option than a $139 Kindle WiFi – even though users would, in a few months, probably regret choosing the older generation eInk screen.

$100 is a magical figure (marketers would say $99 and $97 are more magical) and a $100 Nook WiFi would completely decimate Kindle WiFi sales – Amazon doesn’t really have an option other than to go with a $100 Kindle WiFi.

Why we have a $100 Nook WiFi

B&N, with the help of Best Buy, is creating very interesting market segmentation -

  1. $100 Nook WiFi for value conscious readers. It’s almost certainly going to stick with this price throughout the holiday season.
  2. $199 Nook to appeal to hard-core readers. The price for Nook might come down to $170 or even $150.
  3. $249 Nook Color to appeal to the ‘it has to do more than just read/books look better in color’ non-purists.

The $100 Nook WiFi totally undercuts the $139 Kindle WiFi and the Nook Color steals away casual readers. B&N could complete its attack by cutting the price of the Nook to $150 and creating a deeper integration with Google’s offerings.

It’s a much smarter way to attack the Kindle than Sony’s strategy last year of introducing a pocket edition and a daily edition to supplement its core Sony Reader Touch Edition.

Apart from the strategy benefits B&N has to unload its stock of Nook WiFis. Very soon after the Nook WiFi was released the Kindle WiFi was released with the newer generation eInk Pearl screen and lots of great features and a lower price. It probably destroyed Nook WiFi sales and B&N might have a few hundred thousand lonesome Nook WiFis withering away in their warehouse.

With one stroke of Black Friday magic B&N gets rid of its surplus stock and attacks Amazon’s Kindle WiFi sales.

$100 Kindle WiFi vs $100 Nook WiFi

What if both Kindle WiFi and Nook WiFi were at $100 – Which one should you get?

  • If you really need ePub support or support for Library books or the B&N store features then the Nook WiFi is a good choice.
  • In almost every other case the Kindle WiFi is a better option as it’s a third generation eReader while the Nook WiFi is a second generation eReader.

Even at $110 or $115 the Kindle WiFi is a better option than the Nook WiFi (unless you need library book support). At $120 to $139 for the Kindle WiFi it becomes a very tough decision – Then it comes down to what you think of eInk Pearl and which eReader features are most important to you.  

In either case it’s great for readers and ebooks

Regardless of whether users buy a $100 Nook WiFi or a $100 Kindle WiFi it’s great for all of us readers. More eReaders = More eBook sales = More power to readers.

$100 truly is a magical price – The minute people see $99 it seems not that much more than $90 or $10 and a lot less than $149 and $110 and $100. Instead of sweaters that get worn only at funny sweater parties and ties that only decorate moth-eaten cupboards people will be handing out Nook WiFis and Kindle WiFis and hoping they will be cherished gifts – and they probably will.

B&N is bringing us the $100 eReader and Amazon will have to play along. So, it’s quite likely that this Black Friday we’ll have a $100 Kindle WiFi competing with the discounted $100 Nook WiFi.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi

We’ve seen the $139 Kindle WiFi and the $189 Kindle 3 arrive today and one of the hot topics at the kindle forum is Kindle vs Kindle WiFi.

This Kindle vs Kindle WiFi comparison post will explain the differences between the two and help you choose the right Kindle for your needs.

Note: Kindle 3 has BOTH 3G and WiFi and you can switch between them freely. You can choose to use WiFi instead of 3G. Kindle WiFi, on the other hand, has only WiFi.

Note: You only need 3G or WiFi when you are downloading books or browsing the Kindle Store or Internet. It is NOT needed when reading. Once you have a book on your Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 you can read it without being connected.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi – Exactly what are the differences 

There are, to the best of my knowledge, just two significant differences -

  1. Price – Kindle WiFi is $139 and $50 cheaper than the $189 Kindle 3.  
  2. Free 3G – Kindle WiFi does not have 3G and will not benefit from free wireless via AT&T’s network. You will have to find a WiFi network/hot spot to browse the Kindle Store and browse the Internet.

There are also 3 minor differences –  

  1. Weight – Kindle WiFi is 8.5 ounces and Kindle 3 is 8.7 ounces.
  2. Name – They’re named differently and have different serial numbers.
  3. Kindle WiFi is only available in Graphite. Kindle 3 in White and Graphite.

Let’s look at Kindle vs Kindle WiFi differences.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi – $50 vs Free 3G

The benefits of Free 3G include (provided you’re using the Kindle 3 in places covered by AT&T’s network) -

  1. Browsing the Kindle Store.
  2. Downloading Kindle Books in 60 seconds.
  3. Free Internet Access – This includes Wikipedia and Internet sites via the built-in browser. The browser is experimental and while mobile sites work other sites might not. The 3G is also somewhat slow.

The benefit of getting the Kindle WiFi is – $50.

What is WiFi?

WiFi is simply a wireless network that lets you connect your laptop or mobile device to the Internet. An example would be a wireless modem that creates a wireless network in your home which you use to access the Internet from your laptop (without needing a physical Internet cable).

Another example is a coffee shop that takes its Internet connection and creates a wireless network (also called WiFi hotspot) which its customers use to access the Internet.

Kindle WiFi depends on these WiFi networks to connect to the Kindle Store, to download books, and to access the Internet. If you have a wireless network at home or work the Kindle WiFi should work (you might need to figure out the password). Additionally, Kindle WiFi works with AT&T WiFi hotspots.

How does Kindle WiFi work with AT&T WiFi Hotspots?

Kindle WiFi works automatically with AT&T WiFi Hotspots. If a coffee shop or a mall has an AT&T WiFi HotSpot your Kindle WiFi will automatically recognize it and work -

Free Access at AT&T Hotspots
Enjoy free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots across the U.S. for shopping and downloading Kindle content – no AT&T registration, sign-in, or password required.

This is a nice benefit although Internet access is not included.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi – Cases where the Kindle WiFi is better

You don’t really need Kindle 3 with 3G in case -

  1. You will mostly use your Kindle WiFi in areas where you have access to a WiFi network. For example – If you use your Kindle WiFi mostly at home and you have a WiFi network setup at home then you don’t really need the Kindle 3. Save the $50.   
  2. If you happen to have a decent number of AT&T WiFi Hotspots where you usually head out for reading or near your house then you should do fine with the Kindle WiFi.
  3. Some coffee shops have a free wireless network. Again, the Kindle WiFi will do just fine – ask the Barista for the network password and you’re set.

Basically, if you have access to a wireless network at home and where you read outside the house then you can get by with the Kindle WiFi.

There are two qualifiers -

  1. If you travel a lot, and especially if it involves international travel, you should get the Kindle 3 with 3G.  
  2. Even if you don’t have WiFi networks handy you can go with the Kindle WiFi if you don’t mind searching for books on your PC and downloading Kindle books to the PC. You can transfer books from your PC to the Kindle WiFi via USB – It’s pretty straightforward.

At $139 Kindle WiFi is a great value and if you don’t need the 3G (or can do without it) it makes sense to get it.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi – Cases where the Kindle 3 with 3G is better

If you fall into one or more of these categories -

  1. Don’t understand WiFi at all and don’t have home Internet. Note: WiFi is quite simple. So do give it a shot before deciding Kindle WiFi isn’t good enough.
  2. Can’t be bothered to learn how to set up WiFi at home and how to find WiFi hotspots. 
  3. Really value the fact that Kindle 3 with 3G is much more convenient.
  4. Travel a lot and don’t want to keep looking for WiFi networks.
  5. Travel internationally or move around internationally and don’t want to bother with WiFi.  
  6. Will use your Kindle a lot on commutes where WiFi networks will not be available.
  7. Don’t think $50 is a big deal.

Then please get the Kindle 3 with 3G. The $50 is worth it since you get free Internet and it’s very convenient.

There are a few qualifiers -

  1. Keep in mind that AT&T network isn’t available everywhere. If you read mostly at home and have a WiFi network at home but AT&T’s network doesn’t cover your home – Well, it makes little sense to get the 3G Kindle 3.  
  2. If you plan on moving to a different country or different state it makes sense to get the Kindle 3G – You might find that you no longer have any free WiFi hotspots nearby.
  3. $50 isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. Kindle 3 with 3G will pay that back in many ways – perhaps just the convenience of using it on a vacation, perhaps through higher resale value, perhaps when the 3G saves you (at a time when WiFi isn’t available or is very expensive).

If $50 isn’t a deal-breaker consider going with the Kindle 3 with 3G. Kindle vs Kindle WiFi should tilt towards Kindle 3 – unless you always have a WiFi network around when you’re reading. Also consider taking a look at this Kindle vs Kindle WiFi discussion at the official Kindle Forum.

Kindle WiFi Review

This Kindle WiFi Review is based on about an hour of playing around with the Kindle 3 – courtesy the Kindle Team.

Kindle WiFi comes in for the ridiculously low price of $139. It doesn’t have 3G wireless and that means if you can’t find a WiFi network – no free Internet, no browsing the Kindle Store, no 60 second book downloads. It weighs in at 8.5 ounces and is a little lighter than the Kindle 3 (8.7 ounces). In every other way Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are identical.

Please check out my Kindle 3 Review for a detailed list of improvements and a discussion of Kindle 3 strengths and weaknesses. Except for the 3G wireless part all of these apply to the Kindle WiFi.

Kindle WiFi Review – Lighter, Easier, and Much Better

Amazon’s focus with Kindle WiFi and Kindle 3 seems to have been to focus even more on reading, make the Kindle even easier, and add on as many improvements as possible.

Here are the key improvements -

  1. 50% better screen contrast.
  2. 15% more compact.
  3. 21% lighter.
  4. 20% faster page turns.
  5. Double the memory.
  6. Double the battery life with wireless off (up to 1 month). With wireless on you get just 10 days.  
  7. Much better usability of buttons and keys.

There are also some improvements in the various features -

  1. Better PDF support including the ability to add notes and highlights to PDFs and use the dictionary. Kindle WiFi also supports password protected PDFs.
  2. Better Accessibility – All the menus and the home page now have Text To Speech enabled.
  3. Sharper Fonts – Amazon is using some complicated algorithms to draw sharper fonts.
  4. Page turn buttons no longer make a loudish clicking noise.
  5. There are now 3 Font types – Serif, Sans-Serif, and Condensed.

Overall, the Kindle WiFi is a very compelling eReader and at $139 it’s insanely good value for money.

Kindle WiFi Review – Disadvantages

All the disadvantages mentioned in the Kindle 3 Review post apply. There are some Kindle WiFi disadvantages worth going over again – the lack of 3G, being dependent on a WiFi network for book downloads, the tiny size and accompanying fragility (perhaps, not sure how sturdy it is), lack of ePub support, the missing row of number keys, lack of an SD card slot, lack of a replaceable battery. If one of these is a deal breaker skip the Kindle WiFi.

Not having 3G wireless is a significant drawback – However, if you can get by on WiFi or by using your PC it shouldn’t be a concern.

Kindle WiFi Review – Kindle WiFi keeps the focus on reading

Perhaps the best part of playing with the Kindle 3 was seeing that the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi continue to be dedicated reading devices focused on reading books and on making everything very simple.

You see this in a lot of ways – much better screen contrast, faster page turns, no multi-purposeness added, no touchscreen, keys moved to be more convenient, page turn buttons improved. Amazon has refused to let the iPad’s success poison the Kindle’s focus on reading and that’s a beautiful thing.

Kindle WiFi Review – Kindle WiFi is Very Strongly Recommended

Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are instantly the best available eReaders. Kindle WiFi exceeds every other eReader (including the Kindle 3) in providing value for money by coming in at $139. Basically, there’s nothing close to the Kindle WiFi other than Kindle 3 and that’s $50 more.

Kindle WiFi undercuts the Nook WiFi by $10 and also has significant advantages – the eInk Pearl screen, better PDF support, faster page turns, more memory, more battery life, better usability, etc. Nook WiFi has its own advantages –  lending, ePub, the promise of Android, Chess and Sudoku. Overall though, Kindle WiFi easily beats Nook WiFi.

Kindle WiFi is very strongly recommended. It’s a beautiful little eReader with lots of impressive features. Hopefully this Kindle WiFi review helped you – let me know if you have any questions.

Kindle WiFi – Kindle 3 WiFi for $139

Update: Kindle WiFi is now available for $139 at Amazon.

The big news this week is from Engadget. They managed to leak a screenshot from Amazon that shows a list of Kindle models (more below) with the ones related to Kindle 3 supposed to be -

  1. Shasta
  2. Shasta WiFi 

Engadget are saying that Shasta is the codename for the rumored thinner, faster, better screen contrast Kindle 3 and that Shasta WiFi indicates that there will be a Kindle 3 WiFi version.

Well, let’s take a look at the Kindle codenames and see what we can ferret out.

Kindle 3 internal codename, Kindle WiFi revealed by Engadget

Here are the Kindle 3 and Kindle related codenames Engadget has shown in their screenshot and what each probably corresponds to -

  1. Shasta – Kindle 3 is rumored to be codenamed Shasta.
  2. Shasta WiFi – This is supposed to mean that there’s either a Kindle WiFi model or a WiFi variant of Kindle 3. 
  3. Dummy Device.
  4. Lassen (iPad) – Kindle for iPad.
  5. Lassen (iPhone) – Kindle for iPhone. Note that its all one app which works across iPod, iPhone, and iPad and that would explain them sharing the same name – makes even more sense when you consider Lassen is a National Park full of Volcanoes.
  6. Lassen (iPod) – Kindle for iPhone.
  7. Redding (Android) – Probably Kindle for Android.
  8. Mazama PC – Probably Kindle for PC.
  9. Mazama Mac – If the previous guess is correct this has to be Kindle for Mac.
  10. Kindle Simulator (Turing) – The Kindle Simulator that comes with the Kindle Development Kit. Since the Simulator works for PC, Mac, and Linux there should be three variants – there are actually 4.
  11. Kindle Simulator (Nell) – One of the three variants.
  12. Kindle Simulator (Platform) – The third variant.
  13. Kindle Simulator (Turing WW) – Not sure what WW stands for. Perhaps it means worldwide. Perhaps not.  
  14. Turing WW – No idea what this is. However, the fact that there is one corresponding to the Simulator and one without WW hints this might be something related to Windows or Worldwide. Update: This is the codename for the hardware of Kindle 2. The codename for the software of Kindle 2 is/was Mario.
  15. Nell WW – Again, no idea what this is. Might be the codename for the hardware of Kindle DX.
  16. Miranda – Reminds me of Dragonfly and Serenity. It probably has to do with The Diamond Age. 
  17. Klamath – Not sure.
  18. Audible (iPhone) – Is this an Audible app for the iPhone?
  19. Audible (Android) – Probably an Audible app for Android.

The first Kindle was codenamed Fiona.

Almost as interesting as Shasta being Kindle 3 and Shasta WiFi being a Kindle WiFi are -

  • Audible (iPhone) and Audible (Android).
  • Klamath and Miranda.
  • The WW appended to some of the codenames.

Well, let’s dig a little deeper into what these names might mean.

Kindle 3, Kindle codenames – The Diamond Age or a Drive from Cupertino to Seattle?

Shasta reminded me of Mount Shasta – on road trips from Seattle to San Francisco you can always see it (it’s in Northern California) and if you’re lucky you’ll see it when its summit is covered by clouds.

According to Engadget comments Shasta, Lassen, and Mazama are all volcanoes and Klamath could refer to a lot of things including Klamath Falls, Oregon.

What’s the possibility that Lab 16 engineers driving back and forth (or flying back and forth) between Cupertino (where Lab 126 is) and Seattle decided to name all their releases according to landmarks on the route?

Here’s a Google Maps outline of some of the codenames – Cupertino to Miranda to Redding to Shasta to Klamath to Seattle. Mazama is a drive in Klamath Falls and Lassen is a volcanic Park close to the route (close to Redding and Shasta). Also the route makes a lot of sense as you can drive along Highway 1 between Cupertino and Miranda.

What about Nell and Turing?

Well, there’s The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson which had the main character, Nell, solving Turing machines and Miranda was an actor who becomes a mother figure for Nell. It also ties these to Fiona, the codename for the first Kindle, as Fiona is a character in the book who’s exiled and the daughter of John Percival Hacksworth, the second main character in the novel.

Kindle WiFi would almost certainly be a cheaper Kindle

There are two possibilities for Shasta WiFi if it indeed represents a Kindle WiFi (or a Kindle 3 WiFi variant) -

  1. A cheaper WiFi model. 
  2. A model that has 3G and WiFi.

Heelo at Engadget points out the aims each of these might have -

WiFi+3G: Will be slightly more expensive (relative to the non-wifi version) and aimed at customers who lack 3g coverage.

WiFi only: Will be slightly cheaper (relative to the 3G version) and aimed at getting costs as low as possible.

Quite frankly, the rationale for having a cheaper WiFi Kindle is much stronger than tagging on WiFi to a 3G model that is already working well. The 3G radio in the Kindle is supposed to cost $50 to $60 – to the best of my knowledge. That would indicate pretty significant cost savings and a Kindle WiFi might come in as cheap as $199 (perhaps even at $149).

The other strong motivation for releasing a Kindle WiFi would be to take on the Kobo eReader ($149), the forthcoming Nook Lite, and the Sony Reader Pocket Edition ($169).

It’d be good to get a cheaper Kindle WiFi

Well, there are quite a few people who are waiting for Kindle prices to fall. Meanwhile most Kindle owners don’t really want to lose the 3G functionality and all the Kindle 2 features 3G enables like WhisperSync. Releasing a Kindle 3 to cater to the latter and a Kindle WiFi (probably Kindle 3 WiFi variant) to cater to the former makes a lot of sense.

The manner of the recent set of leaks – Bloomberg talking about a Kindle 3 that is thinner and lighter, CrunchGear with a leaked photo of a supposed black Kindle 3 (or Kindle DX 2), Engadget with codenames that indicate a WiFi model – hint at a well planned campaign to gradually stir up interest in the Kindle. Amazon has got to be looking at how Apple get so much free publicity and they’re learning quickly.

Hopefully all this means that we do get a Kindle 3 and a Kindle WiFi soon and perhaps they both share some great new features that make the long Kindle 3 wait worthwhile.

Kindle WiFi, WiFi direct, eReader

Update: Amazon now has the Kindle WiFi available for $139.

Olga Kharif at BusinessWeek has an extremely interesting post on a new technology called WiFi Direct that will morph a variety of gadgets into WiFi hotspots and transform WiFi.

  1. What is WiFi Direct? It’s a Technology that turns your phone, eReader, camera, etc. into mini access points – wirelessly connected with other WiFi enabled devices and broadband enabled modems within 300 feet.
  2. When does it arrive? Mid 2010. Intel is already briefing retailers on it and will start pushing it Q1 2010.
  3. Why? Lots of reasons we’ll go into below. On the surface for customers.
  4. Where will WiFi Direct Be? Everywhere. All Consumer Electronics – phones, computers, TVs, gaming consoles, the Flip, hopefully eReaders and the Kindle.
  5. How does it work? Not sure – thought it seems that existing WiFi capable devices can upgrade to WiFi Direct with just a software upgrade.
  6. From Who? Cisco, Intel, Apple and the WiFi Alliance.

The Real Reason behind WiFi Direct

Technology companies are tried of the hold cellular networks have over them.

  1. Amazon has to pay $2 per book downloaded outside the US to AT&T – It’s messing up the entire Kindle value proposition. 
  2. AT&T and its poor network have been thorns in Apple’s side since the launch of the iPhone. 
  3. Google has been bidding on wireless spectrum and trying desperately to open up the airwaves for its own ends.  
  4. Microsoft and Google have to bid ridiculously high amounts to become the ‘default search provider’ on networks like that of Verizon.

With WiFi Direct Intel, Cisco, and Apple (and other technology companies) get two big opportunities -

  1. In the worst case create an alternate wireless network that is free of the control of AT&T, Verizon, etc.  iPhones without $100 a month voice and data plans.
  2. In the best case create their own networks that they control. This would not be done at first, if ever. However, the possibility remains.

Customers with WiFi Direct enabled devices will create an alternate wireless infrastructure – It really is crowdsourcing infrastructure. Millions and millions of iPhones, Flips, Canons, TVs, Kindles, and PCs will form the building blocks for a giant, crowdsourced WiFi network. 

What WiFi Direct would mean for the Kindle, eReaders and eBooks

Lets take a quick look at some of the things WiFi Direct would enable -

  1. WhisperNet style wireless free downloads all over the world.  
  2. Free Internet browsing (or very cheap browsing). 
  3. The x% of ebook cost that goes to Cellular Networks gets cut out.
  4. The y% of eReader price paid to Cellular Networks (if any) gets cut out.
  5. The amount of time Amazon and eReader makers are wasting ‘negotiating’ with wireless companies gets eliminated. Basically, eReaders and innovative new features can spread quicker.
  6. Direct communication with every other Kindle or eReader – would go very well with a sharing/lending feature.
  7. Direct connections from your Kindle to every other device in your house including your PC.

There’d be some downsides too -

  1. A constant security threat. 
  2. Piracy would be totally out of control.
  3. Probably the end of Unitasking.  
  4. Freeloaders who steal other people’s Internet bandwidth.

Overall, the benefits of WiFi Direct far outweigh the downsides. In another 18 to 24 months we might live in a world where every single device has a WhisperNet like ever-present Internet connection.

WiFi Direct would free the Kindle and other eReaders from the clutches of cellular networks.

Of course, eReaders like Txtr that already come with WiFi (and would be able to upgrade to WiFi Direct with a software upgrade) would have a major advantage.

If the Wi-Fi Alliance’s efforts seem bound for success, Amazon would be well served to outfit Kindle 3 with a WiFi chip – perhaps Kindle 3 will be Kindle WiFi Direct.


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