Amazon Boosts Kindle Battery Life, Adds PDF Reader
Amazon.com says it has increased the Kindle's battery life by up to a week on a single charge, and has incorporated a PDF reader into the e-reader's design. Amazon.com's tweaks come as the e-reader market is gearing up in earnest for the holiday season, with Barnes & Noble claiming that demand for its own Nook e-reader is so strong that units won't ship until after the holidays. Meanwhile, smaller IT startups are also trying to carve off their own pieces of the mobile e-reader market.Amazon.com announced Nov. 24 that it has added a native PDF reader to its Kindle e-reader device, letting users store and display documents on the device. In addition, the company announced on its Kindle Website that the e-reader's battery life has been increased by 85 percent, now offering a week's worth of power on one charge. The upgrades come as Amazon.com finds itself in an increasingly pitched battle to maintain its share of the e-reader market. In addition to Barnes & Noble, which debuted its Nook e-reader on Oct. 20, smaller IT startups such as Plastic Logic and Spring Design also plan to enter the space with their own designs.
Amazon.com's new PDF functionality seems specifically designed to counter that of other e-readers. For example, Plastic Logic had been marketing its Que e-reader, set to debut in 2010, based on its ability to store and display business documents in a variety of formats, including PDF, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
With a rising number of players in the space, however, come more stepped-on toes. Spring Design sued Barnes & Noble at the beginning of November, alleging that the bookseller copied its upcoming Alex e-reader. "Spring Design unfortunately had to take appropriate action to protect its intellectual property rights," Eric Kmiec, Spring Design's vice president of sales and marketing, said in the Nov. 2 statement announcing the lawsuit. "We showed the Alex e-book design to Barnes & Noble in good faith with the intention of working together to provide a dual-screen e-book to [the] market." Spring Design claims that the Alex, like Barnes & Noble's Nook, features a design with both touch-screen and e-ink displays. A Barnes & Noble spokesperson told eWEEK that the bookseller had no comment on the litigation. If the past is any indication, other companies may react to Amazon.com's most recent announcement with claims that their own devices' battery life has been increased. While competition between these companies may be fierce, they all face a common problem in convincing potential buyers that battery life will be a minimal problem even when compared with a traditional book, which requires no electricity at all.