Amazon's Kindle Getting a Larger Screen?
Online retail giant Amazon may be getting ready to expand the screen size of its hardware platform for reading electronic books (e-books), the Kindle, according to a report in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. Though the report cites sources that have seen a version of the device, an Amazon spokesman declined official comment. The new version of the Kindle may debut before the 2009 holiday shopping season, the report said.
The report comes two months after Amazon released the second version of the Kindle, Kindle 2, which retails for $359 and features an six-inch screen. The Kindle 2 also features improved battery life, 20 percent faster page refreshing and a text-to-speech option to read the text aloud. The WSJ suggests a larger-screen device will encourage newspapers to join the format, as print-based organizations struggle to compete with online news sources and for the advertising dollars that have followed readers onto the Web.
Amazon.com subsidiary Lab126 developed the software and the hardware for the device, which debuted in November 2007. The Kindle hardware devices use an electronic paper display and download content over Amazon Whispernet using the Sprint EVDO network. Kindle hardware devices can be used without a computer, and Whispernet is accessible without any fee. In March, Amazon.com launched an application entitled Kindle for iPhone in the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch owners to read Kindle content.
While the high cost of the Kindle and relatively untested mainstream commercial appeal have so far prevented the device from reaching iPod-like ubiquity, Amazon is not without competition. The Sony Reader, which uses the same screen technology as that used by the Kindle, uses an iTunes Store-like interface to purchase books from Sony Connect eBook store, and can also display PDFs, RSS newsfeeds, JPEGs, and Sony's proprietary BBeB ("BroadBand eBook") format, as well as unencrypted MP3 and AAC audio files.
Other models, such as the iRex iLiad, the Jinke Hanlin eReader, and CyBook by Bookeen, suggest despite the dominance of paper-based reading materials, the future of e-reading holds promise. Amazon's first offering of the Kindle, when the company had 88,000 digital titles available for download, sold out in five and a half hours and remained out of stock until late April 2008.