Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kindle News: Clues that new e-Ink Kindles MAY be coming?

A set of observations on Kindle product page wording from commenter Blackbeard Blackbeard sent me a few days ago a couple of observations that he's given me permission to quote:
  1.  ' Right now the Kindle Touch is "Expected to ship in 1 to 2 weeks"
          [AB Note: Today, it's showing "Expected to ship in 4 to 7 days."

  2.  the Kindle Touch 3g is "Currently unavailable, we don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."

  This is highly unusual, and it looks like they've drawn down stock prior to a new release. Keep a lookout!'

Yes, considering that Jeff Bezos said quite a lot, in his interview last week with Len Edgerly [transcript], about the attractions of the 3G models of the Kindle (and added that people who own these seem to read the most, according to their stats), this language about not knowing When or If the Kindle Touch 3G will be back in stock is VERY odd.

  The "currently unavailable" detail given is one of the pre-set reasons when an item is not in stock and it could have been just a programming error that it was showing up that way, but it still is showing that way today, 3 days later.

  Amazon is notorious for not being willing to say anything about a forthcoming model.   So, what's the story here?

  I wouldn't want to say something that could hurt Amazon sales while being untrue, but that statement on their product page is just glaring.

  The WiFi version that is expected be shipped in 4-7 days suggests at least limited supplies with re-ordering of another batch but that would also seem to be very conservative ordering of a high-volume item.

CNet's David Carnoy adds another indication
  In the meantime, CNet's David Carnoy, who has in the past received early word from Amazon though not currently, points out today that Amazon is offering Basic Kindles (the non-touch/no-keyboard model) for $47 (a 40% discount) to Rewards Visa Card holders, although they're limited to one promo code per customer and the offer comes with the disclaimer that limited quantities are available.
  Here's the Amazon page showing the offer.

When we remember the earlier rumor from DigiTimes that an announcement was planned around July 31, and this did not happen, it would seem an obscured announcement :-).

Carnoy writes, cautiously, that the $47 price for Basic Kindles, even if only for Rewards Visa Card holders, "would seem to indicate that Amazon is starting to clear stock to make room for new models."

Are thse unfounded rumors in this case? Or found indicators? :-)

(Bear in mind that if one has bought a Kindle, Amazon has a 30-day full refund period if not wanting it for any reason.)

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

  For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books - Non-classics
USA: by:
   Publication Date  
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular
The Kindle Daily Deal
What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free
USEFUL for your Kindle Keyboard(U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

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  1. You make a compelling case for new models. We 'know' they've been working on lighted screen, so perhaps that will be the only change: they'll keep the same price points, while adding this feature. But I hope there are more physical changes as well.

    For example, I'd like to see them upgrade the screen to 1024x768 (like iRiver HD). I think this could make for sharper text. I've noticed that KF8 embedded fonts don't look very good at the smaller text sizes, it's almost like the bad old days of Topaz. Fortunately, you can use the built in fonts instead in most cases. But I like the _idea_ of embedded fonts, provided the readability doesn't suffer so much. Typography is one area which ebooks are woefully lacking in (on Kindle that includes lack of a hyphenation option, ability to store book-specific text options).

    They could add touch sensitivity to the bezel to enable virtual page turn buttons or scroll bars, and make some of the 'button people' happier (doesn't Amazon have some patent about this?).

    Amazon needs to address 'accessibility' requirements somehow. Kindle Touch dropped the voice menus of KK, and the latter will go away at some point. Maybe the best solution for doing so is to implement the system-level accessibility features that are part of Android, iOS, Windows, Mac in the Kindle apps. After all, visually impaired people are not going to care so much about eink, LCD offers better contrast where that is helpful, etc.

    Bluetooth (for audio, accessibility options) would be nice as well.

    1. I SO dislike Topaz books with those embedded fonts - for some reason the layout is usually horrible. Am glad that with KF8 you can at least use the built-in fonts in most cases, as you say.

      As for hyphenation, I'm one of those who applied the small fix in a text file that allowed me to choose no right justification because everything going to the edge makes me uncomfortable and feels too rigid. I don't like the words broken up like that either. With Kindle 1, we were able to choose no right-justification. But with the Kindle Touch, that ability to set a ragged right edge is gone. Wish we had the option.

      The deal with the Dept of State has been in limbo due to a complaint by the Nat'l Federation of the Blind about the decision of the State Dept to negotiate only with Amazon in connection with an Agreement to deploy 35,000 of its Kindle Touch devices globally, so yes, it's a serious situation that it's missing.

      How to provide more features while keeping the price competitive ... It'll be interesting to see.

    2. Andrys, it's Blackbeard, not Blackbird. That notwithstanding, the wording, "we don't know when or if this item will be back in stock" is standard wording for merchandise that isn't coming back. I've seen it many times, and I've never seen one of those items come back in stock. My guess is that it's the standard canned wording generated by the inventory system when the item is out of stock and flagged to be discontinued. I'm not a betting man, but I'm sure enough on this to bet on it. The touch is their flagship reader product, so I doubt they'll leave this situation with nothing to replace it for very long; it's lost sales.

    3. :-) Sorry, Blackbeard. I was probably thinking of "a birdie told me..." Have changed it!

      It's just odd that they'd let that language be in there, knowing what it means and being so secretive...

      Yes. Jeff Bezos made it clear how valuable the 3G models are for attracting the most avid readers and for making it easy for people to purchase Kindle books :-) Thanks again for the alert.

    4. One more interesting observation: Perhaps two days ago, the amazon home page had a big announcement about Prime Instant Video being available on the iPad. It's already gone. That's awfully fast. Usually those announcements stay up longer. Perhaps they're clearing the decks for the next announcement? Taking human psychology into account, they probably don't want a big announcement right on top of a previous big announcement because some people might not notice the announcement changed (tune it out.) So I'm thinking they dropped the iPad announcement early to do a "reset".

    5. That's on my catch-up list to mention or detail, but while this is a major change for iPad users, it's for fairly small subset of Kindle owners, relative to other Kindle announcements.

      But I'm hoping that you're right that it's another indicator...

    6. I started a Mobileread thread linking to this article and one of the commenters there states that the current Kindle Touch firmware has support for sidelight and higher resolution screen (and apparently capacitative touch?). So I might have to get the new model when it comes out, after all! Hope they still offer 3G.

      As for Amazon Instant Video, I can no longer watch on my Xoom tablet, as the Jelly Bean update has broken Flash video (as I more or less expected). So I hope they follow up with a video app for Android (as well as iPhone, windows 8). Such cross platform, mobile video support will set them apart from iTunes and Google Play. I actually sent Amazon a request/suggestion that they create such video apps just a day or two before they shipped the iPad app. That was pretty quick turnaround!

      There is a very easy hack that restores justification toggle on Kindle Keyboard, but the same mechanism is not available for Kindle Touch (maybe there is a more invasive hack that can restore it). Hyphenation would be no panacea, but it would help somewhat at small to medium text sizes. But forcing everything to full justification can really look ugly sometimes, particularly since Kindle doesn't word break at hyphens and em dashes without some help.

  2. Another datapoint: Today Amazon put up a new announcement, "Save 40% on select Kindle devices and Kindle accessories" with the Amazon rewards card. Looking briefly at the page, this covers a whole slew of products.

    1. Blackbeard, yes an indicator for sure.
      When I did the blog entry I linked to that page of Amazon offers, at and my website stats show that the page has a lot of interest.

  3. I just got a $10 coupon code from a friend and I was planning to purchase the kindle touch but even in Italy we have Expected to ship in 4 to 7 days. I think I am going to wait at least until the 9th (coupon expire 10th). Thanks for the post!

  4. Update

    US store: Expected to ship in 1 to 2 weeks

    Italy-Uk-France-Germany store: Expected to ship in 3 to 5 days (touch, wifi only), Stock for the 3g version

    1. Erick, thanks for updating us on latest expected shipping dates in the U.S. and abroad.

      I see that the UK page, late Monday, says, for Kindle Touch WiFi-only, "Usually dispatched within 2 to 3 weeks."

      Interesting that the Kindle Touch 3G model is now in stock in the UK store but the U.S. store still has "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."

    2. Right now in the Italian, French and German store the kindle touch (wifi) is "Usually dispatched within 2 to 3 weeks".
      Strange situation.

    3. Erick,
      Thanks. The fluctuation really IS odd.

  5. Lets hope they announce some new Kindle soon.. Need to get one, but dont want this generation if a new one is on the horizon.

    Right now im reading all my book in my Xoom (Kindleapp).. Its getting tiredsome for the eyes

  6. Filip. Makes sense. There IS a 30-day full refund policy but it can be a hassle to do that. My only concern is whether they can get past the probs the Nook Glowlight model is having with less display contrast and some fragility.

    1. A better touch response, simil glowlight with a good contrast and cpu speed bump. That's all I want :-)

      Next year we'll probably see the color version.


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