Tag Archives | E-Readers

Is a New Kindle Around the Corner?

Slashed prices for refurbished Kindles could be the latest sign that a new version of Amazon’s popular e-reader is imminent.

This week, Amazon dropped the price of refurbished, third-generation Kindles to $99 for a Wi-Fi model and $139 for a model with 3G and Wi-Fi. If purchased new, the same Kindles cost $139 and $189, respectively. Amazon has also slashed prices on Kindle accessories.

Reading the tea leaves, SlashGear’s Chris Davies thinks new Kindles are about to land, because the last time Amazon cut prices for refurbished e-readers and accessories, it launched the Kindle 3 a month later.

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Kobo to Apple: We’re Building Our Own HTML5 E-Bookstore

Apple’s new App Store policies–the ones I worried about when they were announced months ago–have kicked in. From now on, app makers who sell content such as books and music have two ways of making it available. They can use Apple’s In-App Purchase system to sell content within the app (giving Apple a 30 percent commission). Or they can sell it directly to consumers through their own venues, such as Web-based stores–but can include no mentions or links relating to that fact in the iOS app itself.

Many third-party developers are choosing one route or the other without any public fuss. Canadian e-book purveyor Kobo is being a tad more prickly. It’s updated its iOS app with a new version that meets the new rules–it lets you read books you’ve purchased, but provides no way to buy them or register for a Kobo account, nor any explanation of how to do so. But it’s also announcing plans to build an HTML5 e-reading app which will work in the iOS browser–and which it’ll control itself, with no requirement that it follow Apple’s rules. And the company’s chief iOS architect is detailing the Byzantine approval process which the Kobo app had to go through before Apple would finally approve it. (The essentially similar Borders app wasn’t forced to jump through as many hoops, a reminder of the biggest problem with App Store rules: they’re sometimes applied in an inconsistent, apparently arbitrary fashion.)

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Borders is Toast–But Don’t Blame E-Books

And so it ends. Borders, which went bankrupt and announced plans to close hundreds of  stores last February, is going to finish the job. Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers are buying what’s left of the chain, and plan to liquidate the 399 remaining stores and lay off 11,000 employees. (The companies specialize in buying up once-mighty brands: they also acquired Polaroid and The Sharper Image.)

It’s tempting to blame e-books for Borders’ death. Amazon released the first Kindle in 2007; Barnes & Noble, while slow to respond, came up with the Nook two years later. Borders, however, only dabbled in e-books–selling Sony e-readers at first (via kiosks that shoppers always seemed to ignore when I checked) and more recently partnering with Canadian e-book company Kobo. The last time I was in a Borders, which was last week, the first thing I encountered when I entered was a great big table of Kobo readers. But it was clearly far too little, far too late.

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New Sony Readers

Sony pretty much invented the modern e-reader. But it was Amazon that perfected it–and Sony’s models have generally felt like they delivered too little for too much money. But Cliff Edwards of Bloomberg says that new Sony Readers will arrive shortly.


Tablet Sales: Bad. Nook Sales: Good

Research firm IDC says that tablet sales (the iPad excepted) are lower than expected–but that Barnes & Noble’s Nook is now outselling Amazon’s Kindle.


Whither Mirasol?

One of my favorite tech demos back at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2010 was Mirasol, a new kind of display from Qualcomm that combined some of the virtues of LCDs (color, respectable refresh rates) with the single biggest virtue of E Ink (crazy long battery life).  I saw it in person, was suitably impressed, and waited for the e-reader which Qualcomm said to expect by the end of the year.

The e-reader didn’t show up, and I kind of forgot about Mirasol–until yesterday. Here at Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, there was a press conference with Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, and  someone asked him about Mirasol. Which I wish I’d thought to do.

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Ad-Supported Kindle’s a Hit, and Now It’s 3G, Too

Turns out, people will gladly stare at an occasional ad on their Kindles to save a little money.

Amazon’s Kindle with Special Offers, an e-reader that shows advertisements and discounts on its home screen, is now available with a 3G connection. Like the Wi-Fi model, the 3G Kindle with Special Offers is $25 cheaper than its ad-free counterpart, selling for $164. The Wi-Fi version sells for $114.

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Barnes & Noble’s New Nook Attempts to Out-Kindle the Kindle

Barnes & Noble’s first e-reader was the original E Ink version of the Nook, which had its virtues but lagged far behind Amazon.com’s Kindle in terms of overall polish. Then the company released the Nook Color, which went off in an un-Kindle-ish direction: color, richly-formatted magazines, and Android apps.

Today, B&N announced another new Nook–and this one, it appears, is meant to take the Kindle on more squarely than either of its predecessors.It’s $139 (matching the price of the Wi-Fi Kindle, but not the ad-supported one). It looks like a Kindle, with a gray case and 6″ E Ink screen (and no color touchscreen strip, the most striking feature of the original Nook). It stresses great battery life–in fact, Barnes & Noble is claiming two months on a charge, vs. one month for the Kindle.

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Nook Color’s New App Market, Software Emphasize the “Tablet” in “Reader’s Tablet”

A little over a week ago, I wondered whether the world needed tablets that were significantly less costly and significantly less fancy than the iPad and its most prominent rivals. A couple of commenters said that such a beast already existed: Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color e-reader. They had a point. At $249, B&N’s Android-based tablet is half the price of the cheapest iPad. Its 7″ color screen and industrial design are quite nice, but it doesn’t have a 1-GHz dual-core processor or  cameras or gobs of storage (it has a merely adequate 8GB) or 3G or other features which are becoming de facto accouterments on higher-end models.

Of course, Barnes & Noble has never pitched the Nook Color as an iPad killer. It calls it a “reader’s tablet,” and it gave the device a modified version of Android that doesn’t have the standard Android interface or access to the Android Marketplace. It’s Amazon.com’s cheaper, E-Ink-sporting Kindle that’s been in B&N’s crosshairs.

But when the company released the Nook Color last year, it did say it was working on an app marketplace of its own–a move that would make the Nook Color a little less of a dedicated e-reader and a little more of a general-purpose device. (Already, some geeky buyers had rooted their Nooks to turn them into standard Android tablets.) Today, B&N is launching that marketplace–which is a new section in the shopping area where it already sells books and magazines–as part of the Nook Color’s version 1.2 upgrade. And while it’s sticking with the “reader’s tablet” idea and saying it’ll focus on reading materials and complementary items, it’s also saying that it’s listened to consumers who think that a $249 Nook Color has a place as an alternative to pricier, more powerful tablets.

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