Managing Expectations for Amazon’s Upcoming Kindle Event

In less than two weeks, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will take the stage at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif., to announce a lineup of new Kindle devices.

It was only a year ago that Bezos introduced a plethora of devices in New York, including Kindle Touch for $99, a 3G version for $149, a Kindle Fire for $199 and a bare bones e-reader for $79.

This year promises to be an equally significant event. But until we find out what it entails, let’s do a quick recap of what we know so far:

The 10-Inch Kindle Fire:

While this has been the biggest rumor that has been out there, a larger Kindle Fire 2 — which would be equal in size to Apple’s iPad — is most definitely not a done deal. According to several sources, even though a larger cousin of the seven-inch Kindle Fire is definitely in the works, it’s not clear if Amazon is ready to roll one out quite yet.

There might, though, be a slightly larger version, perhaps around eight inches or slightly more.

While not getting a 10-inch version might disappoint some, with Apple’s latest iPad expected to be a smaller version, sources said that competing head on with the old one is a possibility but might not come in this iteration.

The Seven-Inch Kindle Fire:

As reported by AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski, there will be an updated seven-inch device, which is expected to be thinner and lighter than the original.

It is also likely to have a built-in camera and a much-improved display. Developers are being told to expect a display with a 1280×800 pixel resolution, which is a bit different than the 1024×600 display of the current Kindle Fire.

Back-Lit E-Reader:

One of the biggest upgrades to expect in the black-and-white department is a device with back-lit technology to compete with the Nook Simple Touch with its GlowLight. The Seattle mega-retailer has kept this product under wraps, but a small acquisition made in late 2010 gives the effort away. 

That company, founded in 1991 in Helsinki, was named Oy Modilis. It has a number of patents relating to lighting technology that can be used in e-readers, according to TechCrunch, which spotted an early prototype a few months ago.

Price:

Since the Kindle Fire was introduced last year, the seven-inch Nexus 7 came out with many of the same specs and at the exact same price point. If the original Fire has a chance to continue on, it would have to fall below $199 with the new version at or near that price to remain competitive.

How low can it go? What if there were a bare-bones device subsidized by Prime subscriptions and advertising? Still, about 16 months ago, Kindle Director Jay Marine told AllThingsD ”the economics don’t work” for a free Kindle.

Connectivity:

Today, the Fire ships with Wi-Fi, but no cellular connectivity. Expect that to change, but how it will work is anyone’s guess. Today, Amazon packages 3G with some of its more expensive e-ink readers for free.

But that seems like an impossible model when it comes to devices designed to be media hogs. While not optimal to make consumers pay for 3G or 4G, having the option is a feature consumers might be looking for.


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