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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh just a note that 250 MB is not a lot of data? So there will be higher-cost plans, presumably.
Wow, here’s the data plan:
“I know what some of you might be thinking, you’re going to soak us on the data plan.”
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 32 GB is $499
Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE Wireless
4G LTE Wireless
Soo I think JB is going to announce a third Kindle Fire HD. With “the ultimate tablet feature.”
“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?
“What’s the most popular price point for a tablet?” JB asks, and answers $499, the price of the iPad.
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.
“We’re happy people are still using Kindle 1s that are five years old,” JB says, because they are still buying books.
In other words, keep the devices cheap and then sell a lot of content. That has always been Amazon’s strategy.
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.”
I thought the elephant in the room was going to be “where is the phone,” but whatever.
OK, JB says: There is “an elephant in the room. This elephant goes by the name of how are these prices possible?”
The 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD, also with 16 GB, is $299 and ships November 20.
Audience is clapping and cheering for this price.
Kindle Fire HD 7″ 16 GB is $199
Roundup of what you get:
Jeff just said “All right.” It is now time to talk about price. He’s serious.
Talking about photos on the Kindle Fire HD. The photos look good.
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.
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.
But JB promises it also sounds really good on the device.
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.
And just another image of how X-Ray for Movies is integrated with a movie you’re watching.
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).
Kindle FreeTime has multiple accounts, so if you have more than one kid you can control each one’s time spent.
“Kindle FreeTime” — feature that lets parents place time limits on various types of activites on the device.
(Did you know Jeff Bezos has four kids?)
Now JB is talking about kids. Kids want more screentime. Parents want them to go outside and do other stuff.
Oh, it has an HD front-facing camera and Skype integration.
“if your corporate server runs Exchange, you’re going to love email on this device.”
“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.
Amazon owns IMDB, which is helping them with this. “combining high technology and good old-fashioned hard work.”
“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
“What if you could fuse together the Kindle book and the audiobook? Turns out you can. We call it immersion reading”
So you can listen to an audiobook and read the ebook version at the same time, and your place will sync up.
“Whispersync for Voice” syncs between a written ebook and an audiobook.
Lots of emphasis in this press conference on how the devices make people read more, consume more content
“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”
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.
We’re gonna talk about content now.
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
“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.
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.
“Really state of the art” feature, says JB, is MIMO.
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.
“Something else you can do if you’re serious about WiFi: You can add two antennas.”
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.
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”
“Same sound that Dolby puts in high-end home theater systems. It makes a huge difference. It’s worth it.”
Kindle FIre HD has dual stereo speakers, Dolby Digital Plus, first tablet to ever have it.
Sound: Standard on iPad is one speaker, JB says, showing iPad picture.
You guys want some tech stats? OMAP 4470, 7.5gb memory bandwidth, WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN
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.”
Bezos keeps saying “is it more expensive? yes. Is it worth it? yes.”
Amazon is addressing glare issues with its new Kindle Fire HD tablets.
Two Kindle Fire HDs, one with 10-inch screen
Kindle Fire HD
But Amazon also wanted “best tablet at any price.” Get ready for a second tablet
Sorry, to be clear: The NEW Kindle Fire is $159.
Price drop! $159
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.
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.
The budget tablet market is much more crowded since Amazon announced the first-gen Kindle Fire last year.
Did you know it’s the #1 bestselling item on Amazon? Of course you did.
Here we go with Kindle Fire.
All of the episodes are $1.99. Starting with 8 titles. They are also reissuing two Dickens books, Oliver Twist and the Pickwick Club
Authors will adapt the next installments based on the first ones.
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.
“Buy once, receive all future episodes. AUtomatic and seamless. Join the discussion.” Key: PAY JUST ONCE
Looks like Amazon is doing serialized fiction. “Kindle Serials.”
“Next invention: reach back into the past for inspration” OK — it’s going to be serials
Updated stat today: 3.5 million Kindle Singles sold.
Now Jeff is talking about Kindle Singles. That’s a subject I’ve written a lot about — feel free to Google it!
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.”
“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.
(My guess: yes, “Special Offers” is the new default and maybe even the only option up front, with the pay-to-remove option after purchase.)
— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) September 6, 2012
We’re watching a self-pubbed author video now. The Amazon press people clap every time a new author comes on the screen.
Amazon has been working the self-published bragging KDP stuff into its press releases for a long time now.
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.
Now JB’s talking about self-publishing.
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.
They’re calling it “the $69 Kindle.” Ships Sept. 14
It’s getting upgraded with crisper text…and it’s $69
Orig. Kindle, now $79 for ad-supported, is getting a price drop too, I think
Kobo’s competitor device is $129.99, B&N GlowLight $139
Ships October 1.
It’s $119 for WiFi
“Let’s talk about what you get with Kindle Paperwhite.” This is leading to the revelation of the price.
JB says people “love author bios” so more of those author-centric features are built in now, it seems.
Again, sorry for the heads in the picture but I have too much stuff on my lap to stand up :)
“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.
On the new Kindle Paperwhite, you can switch to the cloud to see your whole library of ebooks.
This is a way longer battery life than the Nook with GlowLight and much longer than Kobo Glo.
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.
“Perfect in the bedroom!” Nice.
“Patented light guide represents 4 years of R&D.”
“62% more pixels.” Whites are whiter.
The Verge’s leaks were correct. It’s the Kindle Paperwhite.
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?
It looks really good, screen is whiter, not gray.
It has an HD screen and is front-lit.
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.
Here comes the new Kindle! A new ad. A guy from Portlandia appears to be in it.
JB just mentioned the 180,000 self-published ebooks exclusive to Kindle. “And people are reading these.”
“It keeps all of your content in the Amazon cloud, backed up, worry-free. Hardware device as a service, that’s what people want.”
“Very lowest prices on content.” That is one service the Kindle FIre provides, JB says.
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.”
I’m checking Jeff B’s pockets for the outlines of a new Kindle Fire. Don’t see one.
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.”
“We even like going down blind alleys. Of course…once in awhile one of those alleys opens up into a broad avenue.”
Jeff (can I call you Jeff?) says that video we just watched is a new ad spot.
“Normal just begs to be messed with. Amazon.” Now: Clapping! Here is Jeff Bezos!
“our accomplishments are things you barely think about, but can’t imagine not having.” (video)
“We’re the people with the smile on the box! We’re the reinventors of normal!”
what what, here we go!
…which hasn’t started yet. We’re 8 minutes behind.
We’ll follow up with more on the DOJ ebook settlement later, but now back to the Amazon press conference.
BIG Amazon-related news:
Judge Cote approves final judgment in e-book pricing fixing case
— Publishers Weekly (@PublishersWkly) September 6, 2012
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/
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
While we wait, I have a breaking announcement of my own: Going to Pizzeria Mozza tonight! So excited.
Note to my colleagues covering Amazon’s press event. It’s scheduled to last two hours. PEE NOW.
— Ed Bott (@edbott) September 6, 2012
We’re inside the hangar now and I’m in the second row. People have great hair here.
Proof that we’re in LA — and a test of our live blog’s photo capabilities