Amazon.com announced on June 1 that the Kindle DX will begin shipping to customers on June 10. At the same time, the company also stated that the Kindle store’s library had expanded to over 290,000 volumes.
In a Q&A session following the company’s annual shareholders meeting on May 28, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos refused to reveal exact sales figures for the Kindle line, which he has positioned at several high-profile events as the future of reading for popular audiences, students and the enterprise. Nevertheless, analysts expect the mobile e-readers to form an ever-increasing part of Amazon.com’s bottom line; Doug Anmuth of Barclays Capital estimated that the device would earn up to $1.2 billion in sales in 2010 and $3.7 billion in 2012.
Bezos launched the Kindle DX on May 6, in a 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. The site was particularly appropriate given that the Times is one of three major newspapers, along with five textbook publishers, that have entered into agreements with Amazon.com to push content electronically through the Kindle.
The Kindle DX, which retails for $489, features a 9.7-inch grayscale screen, 3G wireless access, 3.3GB of storage and active PDF support. Like previous versions of the device, it includes a five-way controller. It includes features new to the Kindle line such as auto-rotate, which will rotate the page when the device is turned lengthwise.
Some innovations to the Kindle, however, are still years away. At the May 28 shareholders meeting, Bezos told those assembled that despite public interest in a Kindle with a color screen, “I’ve seen the color displays in the laboratory … they’re not ready for prime time.”
Competition in the e-book market has grown increasingly fierce. On June 1, Google said it planned to sell e-books directly by the end of 2009, putting it on a potential collision course with Amazon.com. Users would be able to port Google’s e-books onto any electronic device with Internet access, such as a smartphone or netbook, as opposed to being restricted to a single proprietary gadget.
Reports have indicated that Google will allow publishers to set prices, and likely let them charge as much for the electronic versions of their works as for the paper-based ones.
Previously, in March, Google had announced jointly with Sony that it would be making its public-domain e-books available through Sony’s line of e-reader devices, creating a 600,000-volume library. At the same time, Sony announced that it would lower the price of its PRS-700 Reader to $350, the better to compete with the then-new Kindle 2, which sold for $359.
As more companies churn out increasingly larger-screened e-readers, the supply businesses behind them are also engaged in a flurry of activity. On June 1, Prime View International, which supplies e-paper display modules, announced that it would acquire E Ink, which makes electronic paper display materials, for roughly $215 million.
The expanded company will dedicate itself to developing “improvements for e-paper display screens that are easy on the eyes, long-lasting and highly portable,” according to a joint statement.