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Summary:

Well, it didn’t exactly take anyone by surprise, but today Amazon officially unveiled the Kindle 2, the follow-up to their successful e-book reader. Virtually everything about it was leaked, including actual photos of the device, so the announcement didn’t exactly shake the tech world to its […]

kindle2Well, it didn’t exactly take anyone by surprise, but today Amazon officially unveiled the Kindle 2, the follow-up to their successful e-book reader. Virtually everything about it was leaked, including actual photos of the device, so the announcement didn’t exactly shake the tech world to its foundations, but it does raise some interesting questions and possibilities for Apple, who competes with Amazon in at least one arena, though not yet really in this one.

The new device brings a lot of improvements over the previous model, including more battery life, an incredibly sleek, much thinner design, and better rendering of images. It also brings an experimental text-to-speech feature to the table that enables the device to read aloud, 2GB of internal storage, and a new sync feature that allows you to read on your original Kindle, and then switch to the Kindle 2 without losing your place. This feature is also supposed to support other devices in future.

All of this is interesting, but what does it have to do with Apple? If you ask Apple, they might coyly answer “Nothing.” But if you ask Amazon, I’ll bet that if they’re being honest, they’ll say they’re giving a lot of thought to Apple with the Kindle 2. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos even noted that the Kindle 2 was much thinner than the iPhone during the launch event.

Consider the recent success of the iPhone and iPod touch as e-book reading devices. In fact, the iPhone recently garnered press for surpassing Amazon’s original Kindle in popularity in that category. To me, that sounds an awful lot like competition. And what’s really frightening, from Amazon’s perspective, is that Apple isn’t even actively trying to lock up that market, yet they’re making significant headway.

I think that’s probably why the Kindle 2 has so many feature improvements over the original. Without the advent of the iPhone’s success via apps like Stanza, we might have seen a very different Kindle 2, one that improved on physical design and usability, but not necessarily one that includes features the iPhone lacks like text-to-speech and the new syncing feature.

Don’t think that Apple hasn’t noticed the success of their device as a book reader, even if they didn’t plan on marketing it that way. In fact, I suspect that if they are working on a larger format iPod touch, or a tablet-type device, it’s safe to say that they’ll play up that angle and even offer an official, integrated solution that will definitely give the Kindle a run for its money. An iTunes e-book category would then be a perfect tie-in.

It may seem like a far-fetched prediction, but there’s no way Apple can look at the success of Stanza on the iPhone and not imagine ways they might more directly capitalize. And if they’re already working on a larger-format device, there’s no good reason not to challenge Amazon.

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  1. Mlm Multilevel Monday, February 9, 2009

    This product will be part of my collection of electronic devices, that’s for sure

  2. Do we need not an ebook reader? Very few people read books. If the kindle is doing as well as what an analyst said Amazon will be very pleased to publish the numbers because it has great impact on the price of Amazon shares. They are artificially keeping stock low so that there will be a long waiting list. If they are selling that well they will crank up the production (great for conference call) but they are reluctant to do so.

    The reason they came out with this gadget is because books are not selling as well as before and they hope that it will revive the book reading habits They copied the ipod idea of storing songs in the HDD by storing books in HDD. One thing they failed to realize is that reading a book consume a lot of time and the internet had trained us to go for shorter and concise stories. And also made us very impatient.

    Yes those who love to read books and novel will read them but, I am sad to say, they are very few in between.

  3. The Kindle is great for convenience (although I still think a lot of the downloadable media is overpriced), but I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about the potential security/free speech implications of the digitization of books.

  4. Just came across your blog on Google. Interesting post, you bring up a few good things to think about. Good luck with the blog.

  5. Kindle Craze Sunday, March 8, 2009

    I should have discovered this great discussion long time ago. Many thanks!

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