20 Comments

Summary:

We’re here in Los Angeles for Amazon’s press conference. The company is expected to announce a new Kindle Fire and Kindle e-reader today, and we’ll have all the details for you live from Santa Monica.

Amazon Package
photo: Flickr / William Christiansen

At 10:30 a.m. PT on Thursday, Amazon is holding a press conference in Los Angeles. The company is widely expected to announce a new Kindle Fire and e-reader. We’re here in Santa Monica, Calif. and will keep you up to date.

Here’s the news so far:

  • Amazon announces a new Kindle e-reader, the Kindle Paperwhite, that sports a high-definition, front-lit display and has much longer battery life. It’s available starting Oct. 1 for $119.
  • The 3G version of the Paperwhite will be $179.
  • The original ad-supported Kindle is getting a small revamp and a price drop to $69.
  • Kindle Serials: readers buy once, receive author updated episodes automatically.
  • A new Kindle Fire with a lower price of $159.
  • Kindle Fire HD, which will come in two models, 7-inch and 10-inch 8.9-inch.
  • The 7-inch 16GB Kindle Fire HD will cost $199, the 8.9-inch version $299, shipping Nov. 20.
  • Yet another Kindle Fire HD: this time with 4G LTE wireless connectivity. At 8.9 inches and 32 GB, it’ll cost the same as the entry-level iPad, $499.
  • The LTE version’s baseline data plan starts at $50 per year, comes with 250MB of data per month and 20GB cloud storage.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:58 am

We’ll be bringing you lots more Amazon news throughout the rest of the day, so please stay tuned to GigaOM! And now I’m signing off the live blog.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:56 am

Thanks to WordPress and GigaOM’s tech team for a truly outstanding live blog tool, and to Amazon for providing excellent WiFi access throughout the entire event.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:55 am

It is over! To recap, that’s four new tablets and one new Kindle e-reader. We did not hear about a phone or about a TV.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:54 am

Oh just a note that 250 MB is not a lot of data? So there will be higher-cost plans, presumably.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:54 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:53 am

Wow, here’s the data plan:

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:52 am

“I know what some of you might be thinking, you’re going to soak us on the data plan.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:52 am

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 32 GB is $499

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:52 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:51 am

Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE Wireless

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:51 am

4G LTE Wireless

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:51 am

Soo I think JB is going to announce a third Kindle Fire HD. With “the ultimate tablet feature.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:50 am

“So we asked ourselves, if we were going to sell a tablet for $499, what would we put in it? It’s so much room!” Wait, is he about to announce a third Kindle Fire?

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:50 am

“What’s the most popular price point for a tablet?” JB asks, and answers $499, the price of the iPad.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:49 am

Now JB is talking about interoperability. By this he means Kindle apps that can be used on lots of other different devices. When someone complains that Kindle doesn’t support EPUB, Amazon’s rejoinder is that Kindle apps work on almost all devices so it does not matter.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:48 am

“We’re happy people are still using Kindle 1s that are five years old,” JB says, because they are still buying books.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:47 am

In other words, keep the devices cheap and then sell a lot of content. That has always been Amazon’s strategy.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:47 am

Amazon says its doctrine is “above all else, align with customers….We want to make money when people USE our devices, not when they BUY our devices. That is better alignment.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:47 am

I thought the elephant in the room was going to be “where is the phone,” but whatever.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:46 am

OK, JB says: There is “an elephant in the room. This elephant goes by the name of how are these prices possible?”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:46 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:46 am

The 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD, also with 16 GB, is $299 and ships November 20.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:46 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:46 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:46 am

Audience is clapping and cheering for this price.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:45 am

Kindle Fire HD 7″ 16 GB is $199

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:44 am

Roundup of what you get:

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:44 am

Jeff just said “All right.” It is now time to talk about price. He’s serious.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:41 am

Talking about photos on the Kindle Fire HD. The photos look good.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:40 am

Oh, Jeff just said that the larger Kindle Fire HD is 8.9 inches and I am assuming the smaller one is 7 inches but we’ll see.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:40 am

Now we’re watching Jeff Bezos play the “Skylanders” game on the Kindle Fire HD. Amazon is strongly positioning this as a handheld gaming device. And when you are done playing a game, it will pull up an offer for a physical product related to the game. You can buy it with one click, straight from the device. The toy is then integrated into your game.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:37 am

But JB promises it also sounds really good on the device.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:37 am

Now Jeff is playing us some music. The song is “Some Nights” by Fun. He is noting how great it sounds — which, I mean, it does but we are listening to it on giant speakers in a large press conference.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:37 am

And just another image of how X-Ray for Movies is integrated with a movie you’re watching.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:35 am

Now we’re watching a demo of watching Hunger Games on Kindle Fire HD. This is one of the movies that Amazon Prime Instant Video will be streaming free for Prime members as part of its recent Epix deal (but the movie isn’t available for Prime Instant, or for Netflix, yet).

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:34 am

Kindle FreeTime has multiple accounts, so if you have more than one kid you can control each one’s time spent.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:33 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:31 am

“Kindle FreeTime” — feature that lets parents place time limits on various types of activites on the device.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:31 am

(Did you know Jeff Bezos has four kids?)

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:31 am

Now JB is talking about kids. Kids want more screentime. Parents want them to go outside and do other stuff.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:30 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:30 am

Oh, it has an HD front-facing camera and Skype integration.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:30 am

“if your corporate server runs Exchange, you’re going to love email on this device.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:29 am

“I am amazed by how many games we have sold on the Kindle Fire,” JB says. But gaming on tablets is annoying because you “get 30 levels unlocked” and then for one reason or another you lose all your unlocked levels and have to start over. So they’re announcing Whispersync for games, which stores all of your unlocked levels in Amazon Cloud.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:28 am

Amazon owns IMDB, which is helping them with this. “combining high technology and good old-fashioned hard work.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:28 am

“How about movies? if you were watching a movie on your Kindle Fire HD, wouldn’t it be cool if you could just tap the screen and say who’s that guy?” X-Ray for Movies

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:27 am

“What if you could fuse together the Kindle book and the audiobook? Turns out you can. We call it immersion reading”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:26 am

So you can listen to an audiobook and read the ebook version at the same time, and your place will sync up.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:26 am

“Whispersync for Voice” syncs between a written ebook and an audiobook.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:26 am

Lots of emphasis in this press conference on how the devices make people read more, consume more content

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:25 am

“People love audiobooks because they can listen to them in a situation where they could never read a book…it effectively expands their reading time”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:25 am

There are 100,000 audiobooks available for Kindle Fire HD, JB says, thanks to their partnership with (ownership of) Audible. Nobody is super excited about this in this crowd.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:25 am

We’re gonna talk about content now.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:24 am

JB is talking about local storage now. HD files are bigger so they need more storage, duh. 8 GB is “dead on arrival” for a high-end device, says JB, audience chuckles. So Kindle Fire HD starts at 16 GB

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:24 am

Comparison chart:

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:23 am

“Only a small number of high-end laptops” incorporated MIMO until now. Kindle Fire HD has 41% faster WiFi than latest iPad and 57% higher than Nexus 7.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:21 am

Readers had a couple questions about sizes of these devices. Jeff has not yet announced the exact dimensions of the two new Kindle Fires HD, or of the Kindle Paperwhite. We’ll have those later.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:20 am

“Really state of the art” feature, says JB, is MIMO.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:20 am

Two antennas help solve issues with fading, JB says. The software on the device can just select the antenna that’s experiencing less fading. And if your hand obscures one of the antennas, the other can take over.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:19 am

“Something else you can do if you’re serious about WiFi: You can add two antennas.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:19 am

2.4 GHz band has been around 15 years “and gotten unbelievably crowded,” JB says. Too many devices operating in this band. 5 GHz is newer and cleaner.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:18 am

People don’t like buffering and waiting, JB says. “WiFi is crucial on a tablet and other tablet makers are not paying enough attention to WiFI”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:18 am

“Same sound that Dolby puts in high-end home theater systems. It makes a huge difference. It’s worth it.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:17 am

Kindle FIre HD has dual stereo speakers, Dolby Digital Plus, first tablet to ever have it.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:17 am

Sound: Standard on iPad is one speaker, JB says, showing iPad picture.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:17 am

You guys want some tech stats? OMAP 4470, 7.5gb memory bandwidth, WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:16 am

HD files are way bigger than standard files, JB is saying now. “So when you put an HD display on a tablet, you have to make sure that the other sub-systems on that tablet stay in proportion. You have to seek balance.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:15 am

Bezos keeps saying “is it more expensive? yes. Is it worth it? yes.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:15 am

Amazon is addressing glare issues with its new Kindle Fire HD tablets.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:14 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:14 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:14 am

Two Kindle Fire HDs, one with 10-inch screen

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:13 am

Kindle Fire HD

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:13 am

But Amazon also wanted “best tablet at any price.” Get ready for a second tablet

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:13 am

Sorry, to be clear: The NEW Kindle Fire is $159.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:12 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:12 am

Price drop! $159

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:12 am

Amazon repeats again that Kindle Fire has 22% of tablet sales in the U.S. As we reported previously that works out to about 5 million sold.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:11 am

At the time it was the only $199 tablet out there. Now it has competition, including the Nook Tablet, Google Nexus 7, Kobo and the rumored iPad Mini.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:11 am

The budget tablet market is much more crowded since Amazon announced the first-gen Kindle Fire last year.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:11 am

Did you know it’s the #1 bestselling item on Amazon? Of course you did.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:10 am

Here we go with Kindle Fire.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:09 am

All of the episodes are $1.99. Starting with 8 titles. They are also reissuing two Dickens books, Oliver Twist and the Pickwick Club

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:09 am

Authors will adapt the next installments based on the first ones.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:08 am

When you receive a new installment, it’s appended to the ones you’ve already received. “Most intriguingly for me,” says JB, “we have the Internet” — so as authors issue installments they can follow along with reader reaction.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:08 am

“Buy once, receive all future episodes. AUtomatic and seamless. Join the discussion.” Key: PAY JUST ONCE

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:08 am

Looks like Amazon is doing serialized fiction. “Kindle Serials.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:07 am

“Next invention: reach back into the past for inspration” OK — it’s going to be serials

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:07 am

Updated stat today: 3.5 million Kindle Singles sold.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:07 am

Now Jeff is talking about Kindle Singles. That’s a subject I’ve written a lot about — feel free to Google it!

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:06 am

So the lesson is self-publsihing will make you rich. There are KDP authors in the audience today, JB says, “please give them a HUGE round of applause.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:06 am

“We’re able to pay cash for [my daughter's] college,” says one of the self-pubbed authors on screen, whose name I did not catch.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:05 am
Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:05 am

We’re watching a self-pubbed author video now. The Amazon press people clap every time a new author comes on the screen.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:04 am

Amazon has been working the self-published bragging KDP stuff into its press releases for a long time now.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:04 am

we weren’t expecting an announcement on self-publishing today but let’s see. so far, JB is boasting about KDP selection growth — repeats again that “people are buying these books,” i.e. self-published books aren’t all crap, they sell.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:03 am

Now JB’s talking about self-publishing.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:03 am

Thanks Brian!

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:01 am

And the Kindle Paperwhite with 3G is $179. Price rundown: 3G is $179, wifi is $119, orig. is $69. No mention of ad-supported prices, if any.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:00 am

They’re calling it “the $69 Kindle.” Ships Sept. 14

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:00 am

It’s getting upgraded with crisper text…and it’s $69

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201211:00 am

Orig. Kindle, now $79 for ad-supported, is getting a price drop too, I think

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:59 am

Kobo’s competitor device is $129.99, B&N GlowLight $139

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:58 am

Ships October 1.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:58 am

It’s $119 for WiFi

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:57 am

“Let’s talk about what you get with Kindle Paperwhite.” This is leading to the revelation of the price.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:57 am

JB says people “love author bios” so more of those author-centric features are built in now, it seems.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:56 am

Again, sorry for the heads in the picture but I have too much stuff on my lap to stand up :)

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:56 am

“Time to read” feature shows how much time is left to read a chapter and a book. It tracks reading speed and adjusts for you.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:55 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:54 am

On the new Kindle Paperwhite, you can switch to the cloud to see your whole library of ebooks.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:53 am

This is a way longer battery life than the Nook with GlowLight and much longer than Kobo Glo.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:53 am

JB says people will leave the light on all the time, even in bright rooms — “we figured that out early.” 8 weeks of battery life with light on. GASPS in audience.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:52 am

“Perfect in the bedroom!” Nice.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:51 am

“Patented light guide represents 4 years of R&D.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:51 am

“62% more pixels.” Whites are whiter.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:51 am

The Verge’s leaks were correct. It’s the Kindle Paperwhite.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:50 am

New Kindle e-reader, KINDLE PAPERWHITE. Front-lit, whiter, HD screen. “THis is exactly what Star Trek promised me would happen,” says the guy. What’s the price?

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:50 am

It looks really good, screen is whiter, not gray.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:49 am

It has an HD screen and is front-lit.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:49 am

OK so they are showing an ad for the new Kindle. Hipsters, moms and guys with crazy beards love the Kindle. We just haven’t seen what the device is yet.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:48 am

Here comes the new Kindle! A new ad. A guy from Portlandia appears to be in it.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:47 am

JB just mentioned the 180,000 self-published ebooks exclusive to Kindle. “And people are reading these.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:46 am

“It keeps all of your content in the Amazon cloud, backed up, worry-free. Hardware device as a service, that’s what people want.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:46 am

“Very lowest prices on content.” That is one service the Kindle FIre provides, JB says.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:46 am

JB says people “don’t want gadgets anymore. They want services.” Nobody bought all the Android tablets launched into the market last year. “They want services that get better every day, every week and every month, year after year. Kindle Fire is a service.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:45 am

I’m checking Jeff B’s pockets for the outlines of a new Kindle Fire. Don’t see one.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:45 am

Screen showing an email from “Ryan,” who writes “Every time I see that white paper on the front page of Amazon, I know that I’m about to get more for my money than I thought I would…You keep adding more, but not charging more.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:44 am

“We even like going down blind alleys. Of course…once in awhile one of those alleys opens up into a broad avenue.”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:43 am

Jeff (can I call you Jeff?) says that video we just watched is a new ad spot.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:43 am

“Normal just begs to be messed with. Amazon.” Now: Clapping! Here is Jeff Bezos!

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:42 am

“our accomplishments are things you barely think about, but can’t imagine not having.” (video)

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:42 am

“We’re the people with the smile on the box! We’re the reinventors of normal!”

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:42 am

what what, here we go!

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:38 am

…which hasn’t started yet. We’re 8 minutes behind.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:37 am

We’ll follow up with more on the DOJ ebook settlement later, but now back to the Amazon press conference.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:36 am

BIG Amazon-related news:

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:32 am

While we wait some more, want to call your attention to the e-reader Kobo just announced – front-lit, HD e-ink screen with brightness controls, $129.99. Waiting for a Kindle on par with this, but cheaper. http://gigaom.com/2012/09/05/kobo-takes-aim-at-amazon-with-two-new-e-readers-and-a-tablet/

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:30 am

Amazon stock this morning: All-time high. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-at-all-time-high-ahead-of-kindle-fire-event-2012-09-06

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:22 am

While we wait, I have a breaking announcement of my own: Going to Pizzeria Mozza tonight! So excited.

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:19 am
Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 201210:11 am

We’re inside the hangar now and I’m in the second row. People have great hair here.

Erica Ogg September 6, 201210:04 am

Laura Hazard Owen September 6, 20129:20 am

Proof that we’re in LA — and a test of our live blog’s photo capabilities

  1. Awesome…..

  2. Two hours! Guess the real good info will be at the hour and fourty-five minute mark.

  3. Size, 7 inch?

    1. Hi, Kirbster. I don’t think they’ve announced the size, yet, but it looks like the specs are similar to (if not the same as) the current Kindle Touch.

  4. Is it the same size?

    1. The new Kindle Fire HD is coming out in 7-inch and 10-inch versions.

      1. Er-scratch that. It’s 8.9 inches, not 10.

  5. Thank you, and your doing a great job, getting out all the info that at I’m looking for.

    1. Let us know if we’re missing anything. We’ve got Laura on the ground and a few of us back in the home office (some in the virtual home office) who can dig up more details for you guys.

  6. Laura, You are doing a great job. Thank you.

  7. Very nice, concise coverage; thanks.

  8. Thanks much, Laura, I almost felt like I was there. I LOVE reading and I LOVE books…but ereaders just don’t work for me. I need a real book on my bookcase. I’m weird that way, I guess.

    Still, Amazon has shown some solid innovation with these new Kindles. Impressed.

  9. BTW, the recap at the top says the data plan is 250GB a month.

    1. Thanks for catching that, corrected.

  10. A new Kindle Fire with a lower price of $159. So much for all the people who said that even considering how much stuff they’d sell through the Fire, Amazon was taking a loss with the Fire priced at $199. Those people need to remember that Jeff Bezos has seldom if ever demonstrated stupidity.

    1. He seems to have adequately picked up Jobs’ considerable mantle. He’s got an exceedingly innovative mind.

      I would like to see Amazon or B&N give consumers the e-book free when they purchase a physical book. I even tried to get that suggestion to Mr. Bezos, but I doubt it ever reached him. That’s an innovation that could possibly entice me to enter the e-reader world.

Comments have been disabled for this post