Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon’s Big, Expensive Kindle DX You Didn’t Buy Now Cheaper, Blacker

A year ago, the Kindle DX seemed like it might be a big deal.

Amazon’s first attempt to expand its e-reader product line was supposed to appeal to a whole new set of markets, like schools and businesses, who might appreciate a bigger screen. Oh! And it was supposed to be a boon to newspapers and magazines, as well–publishers like the Washington Post (WPO) and the New York Times (NYT) were going to subsidize the device as an incentive for digital subscribers.

And then we never heard about it again.

Amazon still sells them, but the DX doesn’t seem to have caught on in academic markets, and the newspaper pilot program hasn’t gone anywhere either. And it has never cracked my thoroughly unscientific “have I ever seen one on the subway, airplane or anywhere else” test.

Still, Amazon (AMZN) wants to remind you that it’s available. It has cut the device’s price from $489 to $379 and says it now boasts a better screen. And a new color case–“graphite”–if that matters to you.

This is where we’re supposed to assess the updated DX’s chances to compete with the iPad, but I don’t think that’s relevant here: The DX was announced in May 2009 and came onto the market later that summer, some six months before Apple (AAPL) even announced its device. If there was a race for a large format e-reader, Amazon had a long head start, yet never got a lead. Hard to see this changing things.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus