Amazon.com CEO Bezos Says Color Kindle Is Years Off

 
 
By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2009-05-29 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos refuses in a Q&A to reveal exact sales figures for the Kindle, the e-reader mobile device that the company positions as the future of reading for popular audiences, students and the enterprise. Bezos also says a color-screen version of the Kindle is years away. The Kindle DX, released in early May, features a larger screen and more functionality than its predecessors.

Amazon.com is playing it close to the vest with regard to sales numbers for its Kindle line of mobile e-reader devices.

"I'm not sure we will ever reveal all the numbers," Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos said during a Q&A session following the company's annual shareholders meeting May 28. "There is a competitive advantage to keeping the numbers close." He did add, however, that he makes a daily point of monitoring the sales data daily.

Bezos also suggested that a color version of the Kindle is "multiple years away."

"I've seen the color displays in the laboratory," he said, according to online reports. "They're not ready for prime time."

Bezos originally launched the Kindle DX at a May 6 presentation at Pace University's Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, built on the site of the 19th century headquarters of The New York Times.

In addition to a larger, 9.7-inch gray-scale screen, the Kindle DX also features 3G wireless access, 3.3GB of storage and active PDF support. Certain functions from previous versions of the Kindle, such as the five-way controller, remain. It retails for $489.

During the unveiling of the Kindle DX, Bezos mentioned that Amazon.com had entered into agreements with three major newspapers and five textbook publishers to make their products available on the Kindle. Bezos further claimed that some 60 percent of textbooks on the market would be available through the device.

The Kindle DX debut mirrored in many ways the rollout of the Kindle 2 e-reader at the Morgan Library and Museum in February, for which Bezos concluded his presentation by bringing best-selling author Stephen King onstage for a reading using the device.

Analysts have predicted some massive sales numbers for the Kindle devices. Doug Anmuth of Barclays Capital estimated that the device would rack up $1.2 billion in sales in 2010 and $3.7 billion in 2012, eventually encompassing some 10 percent of Amazon.com's total sales and profits.

Bezos had previously mentioned that Kindle-related sales brought in 35 percent of the company's book-related revenue.

The rollout of the device has led to some conflict, however, most notably when The Authors Guild complained in March that the Kindle 2's text-to-speech feature, which reads onscreen text out loud, could steal revenue from audio books. Although the Guild never followed up with a lawsuit, Amazon.com made the decision to disable the feature in the Kindle 2. With the Kindle DX, the feature was preemptively modified, giving a publisher the ability to disable it for certain books.

Not to take a challenge lying down, Sony made a countermove in March by lowering the price of its own PRS-700 Reader to $350, compared with $359 for the Kindle 2. Simultaneously, Google and Sony announced that the search engine company's public-domain e-books would be available through the Sony device, doubling its library size to 600,000 volumes, over twice the size of Amazon.com's.

 
 
 
 
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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