BlackBerry users may be irritated by the Dec. 17 e-mail outage that hit their devices, but there's a bit of good news for the bibliophiles among them: According to Amazon.com, a Kindle e-reader application is on the way for BlackBerry smartphones.
As for a release date, "Coming soon" is all that Amazon.com is revealing on its Kindle page, beneath a BlackBerry icon. Already extant are Kindle applications for Windows PCs and iPhones, which allow e-books purchased from Amazon.com to be read on those devices.
The porting of Kindle's functionality onto BlackBerry smartphones could be a nod to the business community, which is seen as a viable customer segment for e-readers. Smaller companies such as Plastic Logic are developing e-readers specifically targeted at business travelers, as well as others who want the ability to download and display PDFs and Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents on a tablet-like e-reader.
According to a Dec. 1 research note by financial advisory group Collins Stewart, Amazon.com could sell as many as 550,000 Kindle devices in 2009. That note's chief author, Sandeep Aggarwal, said Kindle faces competition from about 40 other e-readers, including Barnes & Noble's Nook device.
While Amazon.com has traditionally kept its exact sales numbers for the Kindle a closely guarded secret, Aggarwal predicted that the retailer will sell around 450,000 Kindle 2 devices and 100,000 Kindle DC devices this year, although it was not mentioned in the report how those figures were calculated.
"Kindle creates a much bigger mousetrap for Amazon than the traditional books business," Aggarwal wrote. "Kindle not only removes multiple costs and inefficiencies from the current value chain for books ... but also increases propensity to buy books [and other] content and other adjacent products."
In total, Aggarwal said he expects about $301.4 million in Kindle revenue in 2009, increasing to $671.4 million in 2010, $1.2 billion in 2011 and $1.8 billion in 2012.
Those predictions come despite the fact that Amazon.com has had to radically lower the price of its Kindle devices in order to compete more forcefully against the Nook, matching that e-reader's price of $259. The larger-screen Kindle DC, which faces little direct competition, maintains its original price point of $489.
Amazon.com has one advantage this holiday season in that Barnes & Noble, supposedly due to high demand, has delayed shipping Nook units both to customers who ordered online and to Barnes & Noble stores. Many of the Nooks that have been ordered will not be in customers' hands until the first week of January, according to the bookseller.
Nor have early reviews of the Nook been excessively kind. Both Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times described the device as being in desperate need of software tweaks and user interface adjustments, although they acknowledged that Barnes & Noble could improve its creation in subsequent versions.