Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kindle News - April 8: Front-lit Kindle? Kindle in Spanish. Google's coming tablet. Amazon's future tablets

A coming front-lit Kindle?

That's what a TechCrunch writer, Devin Coldewey, said he was shown at Lab 126, though it's not ready for prime time yet.  It may be ready sometime this year, or that's the goal.  Amazon bought a company specializing in this technology and somehow it escaped the notice of most gadget news sites.  The interesting part is that Amazon wanted to show this to Coldewey (as they did with M. Siegler with a prototype of the Kindle Fire when he was with TechCrunch) on Friday.

Some of us don't want to look at a lit screen when just trying to read long-form text in daylight, but the effect is said to be more like looking at light shining ON the screen rather than coming from behind it.
  Color me backward but I LIKE the fact that it's not backlit, and I've not been hoping for front-lit.  But it WOULD be useful if it's a switchable lighting and we can turn it on when the light is dim.  I've asked the writer, in the Comments section, if that's a color image in the top-left corner of the TechCrunch story.

  What I especially like about the story: Dewey Coldewey didn't call it a "scoop" when Amazon chose to show him something (which means they want him to write about it) the way M. Siegler did.

  Is this something of interest to readers?

Free-book listings and Kindle edition blog
I've re-thought the idea of detailed free-book listings, by the way.  Took too much time and people can easily find them on their own these days, so I am back to Kindle world news for the most part.

I've also been thinking about opting out of the Kindle-edition blog subscriptions because this blog uses many story links, which is frustrating to Kindle-device users.  I'll add that most don't know that you can click on a link to a story (including with Kindle Keyboard models) and then choose Menu -> Article Mode and see it in large, very readable text adjusted to the width of your screen on most Kindles.  I've done stories on how tiny web text can be quickly made very readable on both the Kindle Touch and the Kindle Fire, but the how of this would need to be repeated often and as a result I often don't choose as many stories as I would.  I sometimes want readers to know about a story and I would like to just be able to link them to the stories if they're of interest, but this would not work well for a Kindle-edition blog.

Some news is going to be of less interest to the majority, but I want to include them also.  So I'll do that more often now, and I apologize in advance to Kindle-edition subscribers.  I think the only advantage of Kindle-edition subscription is to be able to search the last 25 articles from this blog offline.

Kindle in Spanish store on Amazon
Amazon opened up a "store" for Kindle books in Spanish, called "eBooks Kindle en EspaƱol."
  Before this, all that was available in other languages was in the little-known Amazon foreign-language area.

Google Nexus Tablet due eventually
This has been rumored as an Asus-built tablet meant to help Google pummel Amazon's Kindle, with more hardware features but, somehow, less cost. It was due, people said, in May.  Now it's July.  And to do this, they'll need to cut back the costs even more.  They'd already scaled back the type of processor used and now they need to cut back on other items.  It'll be interesting to see what they do.  I use Google everyday in MANY ways, searching, blogging, translating, and it's a real boon, but one thing Google is not known for: customer support.

 Just try to find a human to ask about things.  On their help boards, they have volunteer users who will sometimes try to calm questioners by saying they'll forward the questions.  It's not like Amazon's Kindle boards which is filled with Kindle owners 24/7 wanting to help other Kindle owners.  Google's volunteer helpers are scarce and not nearly as quick to reply and it's usually to say "We're trying to find out." but with Amazon, besides the user-to-user forums, an Amazon tech support person trained on Kindle is about 2 seconds away with their "Contact us" button.  And you can call some numbers I've listed at:

  the special Kindle Support page which I think I've forgotten to link in the right-hand reference column on the webpage. (Link: - I try to make the shortcuts make sense.  They're always preceded by "" ...)

  Joe Wilcox, writing for, headlines his article a few days ago, "Google isn't trying to save Android tablets but kill Kindle Fire."

  Well, I'd say they'll try to compete with it and hope theirs will meet the fancy of more users.

  The Kindle Fire has really taken off, and latest reports have been that the Kindle Fire apps are bringing developers more revenue than Google's Android store does.  Seeing that the Android operating system is by Google, that would seem an untenable situation for them.  And they would be able to afford to take a loss on hardware to compete against the Kindle Fire and any eventual addidtional tablets very well, except for the area of customer service, which as you can tell from Kindle board discussions of a customer-focused user-interface, would be a busy area, because the Android operating system is, in its rawer state, not exactly targeted for novice users.

  But Google would also need to have a good ecosystem as Apple and Amazon do but Google Books area has not been as popular as either Apple's or Amazon's.  So they have a road to travel to bulid a support system around it.

  Wilcox's story points out that "in just one quarter, Amazon's Kindle Fire jumped ahead of all other Android tablets, putting it second to iPad."  He disagrees with CNet's Roger Cheng who feels Google shouldn't jump into the Android tablet business.  Wilcox feels that a Google-branded tablet is the "best thing" they can do now for Android tablets.
' Something else: Kindle Fire is largely responsible for Android market share gains -- to 44.6 percent during fourth quarter, up from 32.3 percent three months earlier. During Q4 the two leading tablet operating systems were iOS and Amazon's Android, with combined share of 71.5 percent. Let me restate that: Not Android, but Amazon Android.
  ...Amazon's continued success is good for driving up Android shipments against iPad, but it's bad broadly...

  Amazon's objectives are contrary to Google's. For example, if I type the web address to Google's Android Market into the Silk browser on my wife's Kindle Fire, Amazon's Android app store opens instead. '

  He points out that the change of name from "Android Market" to "Google Play" "emphasizes Google as dominant brand and foreshadows the curated approach to come."

There is a ton of info in the article if you're interested in it, but you won't see the words "customer service" in it anywhere, and that is everything when it comes to Amazon's success.

Coming Amazon tablets
The news has been filled with conjecture, most of it conflicting, and changing each day in a way that doesn't resemble even evolving news but pure rumor, so I've stayed away from it.  The stories careen wildly between a Kindle Fire 2 or two Kindle Fire 2's, a low-cost and higher cost 7" or maybe just one or maybe an 8.9" tablet or maybe a 10" tablet, maybe two months away, but etc etc. Digitimes even said that the costs of an 8.9" tablet were seen as a hurdle.  So that hasn't even started.
  As I've done in the past, though, I'll be reporting whenever any parts orders have been reported by the usual Taiwan sources.

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 3G 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.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. Just a quick comment to say that eliminating the free books listing is a good idea, as many other sites have that info. this column was always about the tech stuff, and should stay that way.

    Rick Askenase

    1. Hi, Rick -
      I was hoping to combine them in some way outside of the subset-searches, since it's clear that what it's what most seem to want, but it takes too much time from the first focus. Thanks very much for your feedback.


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