Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kindle News: Quite a bit more on the expected Amazon announcements

A bit more on the Amazon announcement

As a result of the raised expectations and Amazon's announcement Friday that the company has "expanded its licensing agreement with Comcast-owned NBCUniversal adding, to its Prime Instant Video feature, "hundreds of popular and award-winning TV episodes, including prior seasons of Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica and more..." Amazon's stock hit a record high ($246.87/share)

Rumors from Staples
At first (on July 23), it was Demos Parneros, president of U.S. Retail for Staples Inc, who was reported by Reuters' Alistair Barr (paraphrased -- not an actual quote) to have said, in Reuter's words:
' Amazon is to introduce up to five or six tablet SKUs, or stock-keeping units ... The tablets will be different sizes, including a 10-inch model, Parneros said. Amazon spokespeople declined to comment on the company's plans. '
And, with that, the news sites began reporting that there would be 5 or 6 tablets, when actually "stock keeping units" are more often variations on a basic model.

  That can mean, for example, that a Kindle Fire could be sold in configurations of 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and you'd have 4 to 6 "tablet SKUs" already.  Add that they might even add 3G capability as an option to one or two of those and you have more tablet SKUs.

  People are expecting they'll keep a basic Kindle Fire model with a configuration close to the one we have now (maybe at $149) and add an upgraded one with the heavier specs we've discussed for a few months.

  However, Barr also reported that Parneros mentioned there will be a 10-inch model.  We don't know exactly what he said though.   A 10" version had not generally been expected until closer to the holidays or even early Spring 2013, but they might announce the plans and timetable at the coming press conference.  Or they could surprise us with one.  Personally, I like the 7" or even 8.9" form factor but then I already have a 10" tablet (Samsung) that I don't use nearly as much as I use the Kindle Fire, though I do like it.  It's just not as practical for carrying outside and is not as comfortable to hold for extended reads.  The 7" one is more like carrying a book (and easier on the eyes when reading books).

More rumors from Staples
1.  While re-reading a CNet story I'd recommended the other day, I noticed a comment from someone identifying himself as a Staples employee.  This reminded me of having seen and reported a comment at in April 2010 from a Best Buy employee who reported seeing cases for Kindle on the truck, before there had been verification Best Buy was to be a seller and while it took those Kindles quite some time to show up at Best Buy they eventually did.  At that time, it seemed odd to think of Kindles selling there, for some reason.

  The CNet story commenter (ss5joshua) this week said the following:
' I work at Staples, and our store is getting a reset in two weeks.  Part of the reset is taking out the two endcaps that the Kindles are currently using (one for the standard E-Readers, the other for the Kindle Fire) and giving them a 20' display on the first aisle of the technology department.  I figured four devices wouldn't be able to take up that much space :P '
  A 20' display IS quite large, especially compared to the current two endcaps.  So there may well be quite a selection in store, so to speak, for us.  They may also have opted to stock up on much more in the way of accessories.

  That commenter's info does seems plausible though.

2.  Another one I noticed is just a wish and a question and probably has no basis in fact at this time, although many have wished we'd heard anything about a color e-Ink model.  We'd be lucky to get a front-lighted b&w model, and I think it's important they do that.  Users of the Nook Glowlight have shown they don't care that much about any resulting loss in contrast due to the added layer.  (I hope Amazon keeps at least one e-Ink model without the light, as I love the contrast of the Pearl screen the way it is.)

  But the commenter (paulej) links us to the Eink company's page on their Triton or Color Active Matrix technology.  The color is, as always with these e-Ink devices, very muted and not to be compared with LCD devices' vivid colors, but they may be good for understanding color charts, graphs, and other illustrations in textbooks that can also be read in bright daylight.

  HOWEVER, again, I've seen *zero* rumors credited to the usual chatty "supplier" sources when orders are involved) and then proudly described to reporters in Taiwan.  There's just been no inkling (pun intended) of that, and it's not something that could likely be hidden either  However, it might be possible for next year's batch.  In demos of this technology, which also involves a second layer, there has been a reported loss of contrast seen.  Imagine a third layer to shed front-light on a 2-layered color e-Ink device.

But the many possibilities will keep us guessing for the next 13 days.

That same Reuters article -- the section on Lab 126 growing
The Reuters article had a substantial section on what the Lab 126 staffing growth indicates.

They had 500 employees listed on Linkedin when Amazon launched the KFire and that's
up to 865 as of mid-July, including 792 of them in the San Francisco Bay Area.

An emphasis has been on hiring hardware and software engineers who have experience with cellular products and one post involved responsibility for "adhering to carrier requirements," so it's pretty obvious Amazon has been working on mobile technology involving cell/smartphones.

The postings of jobs is anything but private, and they quote this also: ""Prior wireless or related field test experience that covers smart phones or smart devices a plus..." The hiring of experienced managers in this field is telling also.

One (of two hired from Microsoft's Windows-Phone area) is, Reuters says, director of product management for Kindle Cross Platform and blogged his good luck in getting to work on a product he really loves, before and after joining Amazon, and adds:
' I can't really say much about some of the things on which I am working.  I can say that the goals of some of the teams are huge. Huge." '
  He also mentions something he was told by an Amazon senior VP during the recruitment process:
' He said, "the goal of Kindle was to enable a system to allow someone to buy any book ever published, and have it delivered anywhere in the world in 60 seconds.  It's time to think bigger." '

Maybe we'll get a hint of that.

Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links
Kindle Fire  7" tablet - $199
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $79/$109
Kindle Touch, WiFi
- $99/$139
Kindle Touch, 3G/WiFi - $149/$189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189, Free, slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £89
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi, UK - £169
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. nice article !
    and by the way thank you for your blog full of tips,bargains and for your time spent on that

    I am looking forward to buying the new Kindle and then I will give the "old one" to my brother

    christian, from France
    (reading at the moment on my Kindle touch , DAEMON from daniel Suarez , discovered with the show Triangulation on TWIT network )

    bonne journée !

  2. christian,
    Lucky brother! That's nice. The KTouch is, for me, a seriously good, light e-reader with a lot of klout (the X-ray feature, the new instant language translation capability, text to speech on more newspapers and magazines and, as with the Kindle Keyboard, I've been satisfied at the time they went on to new models. It'll be interesting to see what additions we may see this time out.

    Thanks for your feedback on your reaction to the news and also your very nice words.


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