Looks like this might be the summer of ebook readers! Rumors are flying about new Kindles and nooks, the Kobo reader is hitting Borders Stores, and that’s without considering the impact all the potential Android tablets will have on the reader market. While there’s been some ebook rivalry so far, I think this next wave of readers is where the B&N-Amazon-Borders-Tablet rivalry is really going to get heated.
Engadget caught an interesting FCC filing for a WiFi-only ebook reader from Barnes and Noble. Most likely it is the rumored “nook lite”. No word on whether it will be the same size as a nook, also run Android, have a color touch panel for navigation, etc. But it’s a pretty good bet that it will come in well below the nook in terms of price, which could put pressure on Amazon’s Kindle line.
In addition, that Pandigital Novel Android tablet has also passed the FCC. If it was not for the separate filing, I would have guessed this was the “nook lite” that was being rumored. It does make me wonder about exactly how B&N plans to structure their pricing. The nook is $259, and the Novel is supposedly going to be $199. Where does a WiFi nook fit into this? At $150? $175? As it is there will be some cannibalization between the devices, especially if they’re all lined up next to each other at the same display. It will be interesting to see how B&N proceeds and could lead to some great deals if they decide to get very aggressive about getting their hardware to consumers.
Meanwhile, B&N’s rivals Borders are about to launch the Kobo reader. This is Borders first big foray into ebooks; they’ve sold Sony Readers in-store for some time but never pushed into the content game. Borders desperately needs a winner; they just wrangled new loans, but the stores are bleeding cash badly. I’m actually writing this from my local Borders, and there’s no signage or promotional material for the Kobo reader yet, at least that I saw when I walked inside. Borders is going to need to step up their marketing; the Kobo’s low price ($149) is going to help, but they need far more than that to drive significant sales.
Amazon isn’t sitting quietly in the corner on a pile of Kindles and cash though. First, Techcrunch reported on a supposed “black DX” that was spotted out and about. The only (flimsy) proof that it wasn’t a skin or a knockoff DX is the tipster’s claim that Amazon was shooting pictures of the device. Out in public. At a coffee shop. In Seattle. Riiiiight.
Slightly more believable is the rumor flying around from Bloomberg. They’re claiming Amazon has a thinner Kindle in the works for August, with a better screen and faster performance. While Nate at The Digital Reader is skeptical, I actually think this makes complete sense. There are two possibilities here; one is that it’s a Kindle 2.5 or 3, and the other is that it’s a Kindle lite. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon using a new Kindle to rejigger the pricing on all Kindles. The Kindle 2 is getting long in the tooth, and Amazon could easily replace it with a slightly better Kindle at the same price and then slash the K2 price to $199 until they blow through stock. Alternately, offer up a more limited Kindle (WiFi only, no browser, etc) and charge less for that while keeping the Kindle 2 as the flagship product. I think this could easily be a stopgap device, especially after Jeff Bezos’ comments on color screens being a distant future product and not an imminent change.
And again, that’s without looking to the other (non-iPad) tablets coming out this summer. The Archos Home Tablet is trickling out, there are persistent rumors of a Google tablet, and even if Google doesn’t come through we’re bound to see a halfway decent Android tablet from Asus, MSI or Acer. Plus Kobo, B&N, and Amazon are all promising ebook software for Android this summer AND Google Books will supposedly be launching…
So now you have even more important choices than what book to bring on vacation…which ebook reader to read the book?!?!
What devices or software are you looking forward to this summer? Share your thoughts below!