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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Is Microsoft About to Reveal their Kindle Fire Killer?

A few days ago word went out that Microsoft is holding a June 18th gathering that will involve a major announcement of some sort.  Shortly after that there was a leak of inside information that indicates this will be Microsoft’s first computer hardware offering.  As early as tomorrow we may have some details about an upcoming Windows 8 tablet developed and manufactured by Microsoft itself.  The big question now is what market they are shooting for.  It might make sense for this to be a big push against the Kindle Fire.

Consider the situation that Microsoft has gotten itself into.  They are trying to take over the tablet market from Apple while still maintaining dominance in the PC market.  They are doing this by supporting everything in an attempt to create consistent experience.  Tablets, PCs, video game consoles, phones, everything will have Metro on it sooner of later.  Unfortunately this includes supporting multiple architectures, which has made the company split their project.

Windows RT is what they are calling the branch of Windows 8 that runs on ARM devices and it might be in trouble.  While Microsoft is trying to create consistency, none of the applications that run on Windows RT will run on the rest of Windows 8, nor will the reverse be possible.  This means that they can’t necessarily count on the hordes of existing Windows software developers to jump on board.

The reason this matters to Kindle Fire fans is mostly that this would be a great time for Microsoft to demonstrate how a well designed product running their software can perform.  They’re already going to be pulling in a lot of people with touch interface experience for their app store.

The segment that is willing to concentrate specifically on tablet customers to the exclusion of desktops will likely be Android and iOS developers.  As a result we might see something that can do everything the Kindle Fire can, with a similar integration into a large existing media ecosystem, running an admittedly better tuned OS.  Amazon might end up with problems.

Pretty much only one thing makes this somewhat questionable.  Microsoft has not shown any particular interest in going into the budget tablet market.  They actually seem to want to disregard Android devices entirely and head straight for the top to knock down the iPad.  Reports indicate that OEMs working on ARM tablets will be charged $85 per device just for the operating system.  You can’t do that and compete with the Kindle Fire on price.

We will know more tomorrow afternoon.  This could be big news, and explain a lot about Microsoft’s interest in the Nook line, or it could turn out to have no effect at all on Kindle customers.  If not, it seems that there is nobody else on the verge of taking off until the anticipated Google Nexus tablet is finally finished.  To be totally honest, a Kindle Fire vs Windows 8 tablet competition would be a much bigger thing to worry about.

How Publishers Can Kill the Kindle by Trusting Customers

There is no avoiding the fact that the Big 6 publishers created their own problem in the Kindle.  Amazon provided them with an easy way to start making a move into digital publishing when it was just getting off the ground and they jumped at it.  That alone wasn’t the problem, though.  The issue was that they were so paranoid about the medium that they managed to lock people into the first platform they purchased any significant number of books through.  Let’s face it, nobody is better at successfully selling, suggesting, and just generally getting people interested in books than Amazon.

I’ve talked here before about how the Kindle deserves its place as the top selling eReader primarily because nobody else has come close to designing a store that gives customers so much of what they want.  The suggestions are often eerily accurate, the categories make sense, and the search options are almost always up to a given task.  Even Barnes & Noble can’t come close because of how used to the store-based practice of sponsored marketing they are.  Given a choice between accurate recommendations based on personal purchase history balanced against similar customer profiles and recommendations based on what publishers decided to pour an advertising budget into, the choice is fairly simple.

We know that Apple’s price fixing scheme was not the answer in the long run.  Not only did it not work particularly well to decrease Amazon’s influence, now the publishers are enjoying legal troubles for their efforts.  They do have plenty of reason to want more diversified distribution, though.  Looking at Amazon’s treatment of the IPG is enough to highlight some of what it means to be completely at the mercy of a single distributor.

The problem these publishers really need to address is that of their DRM.  Amazon has not required publishers to participate in their DRM scheme, to the best of my knowledge.  That was forced by publisher paranoia over piracy.  If done away with, they are afraid that eBook profits will plummet.

Here, it seems like publisher interests are actually well served by the design of the Kindle.  Without losing existing Kindle owners as customers, publishers could easily begin selling their titles without DRM and encourage wider competition.  Best case scenario, this would allow publishers to open their own cooperatively stocked eBook store. It would also make possible the creation of smaller stores taking advantage of the same opportunity.

If somebody got truly ambitious, it wouldn’t even be hard to create a Kindle alternative that allowed for essentially the same experience.  There are any number of Kindle clones on the market already that do the job fairly well and could probably do it better if the provider felt it was worth the investment in development.  There’s no incentive if they can’t attract customers because Kindle Store purchases are locked down to Kindles.

All of this hinges on publishers looking past the possibility of piracy.  How is that really so difficult, though?  The DRM on eBooks is already laughably easy to get around, judging by how common stories of switching platforms through format conversion have become.  If somebody really wants to pirate content, it is going to happen anyway.  If these companies genuinely believe that the only thing keeping most Kindle owners from helping themselves to hundreds of free books is the DRM scheme, they’re fooling themselves and working against their own best interests.

Apple Still Not Threatened Enough by Kindle Fire to Invest in iPad Mini

The latest in an unending series of rumors about Apple’s supposedly devious plans to take everybody else out of the tablet market no matter the cost has recently popped up via iMore.  Apparently the Kindle Fire is doing far too well and it will be necessary for Apple to step in and eliminate the competition before the holiday sales numbers have a chance to solidify into a real presence in the tablet market.  This report indicates that the new iPad Mini will be available in October of 2012 if all goes well, along with yet another iteration of the iPhone.

Naturally, the speculation makes a number of rather impressive claims.  The iPad Mini will sport a 7.85” Retina Display, for example.  It will also be priced between $200 and $250.  Basically it is a scaled down version of the iPad 3 that just happens to be half the price of the cheapest version of that tablet.  The price drop can apparently be accounted for at least in part by the reduction of on-board storage space to 8GB.

Once again, despite how seriously this rumor is being taken at the moment by various sources, there is a major flaw in it.  None of the details make sense.

The most obvious point is the pricing.  In previous iPad offerings, Apple has never once accepted less than a 50% profit margin on every sale.  The newest version, the iPad 3, is estimated to cost about $310 to manufacture (16GB, 4G Model).  This makes it the least profitable iPad for Apple so far at an estimated 51%.  Even if we assume there to be a relatively large decrease in production costs as they move from a 10” display to a 7”, there is no real way that the company could hope to get even a 25% margin out of a $200 iPad Mini.  The Kindle Fire is only viable at that price because of Amazon’s heavy emphasis on media sales after the purchase.

There is also the issue of OS fragmentation.  Regardless of whether the proposed device would be able to maintain the iPad’s 2048 x 1536 resolution, the decreased size would change the way that users interact with their device and therefore the way designers create their interfaces.  It would introduce a new tier of apps that would have to be directly targeting the Mini.  Coming into what will likely be a major competition with Microsoft’s Windows 8, Apple will not want to be dealing with a complete refresh of their store this fall.

There are plenty of other reasons that we can expect no iPad Mini.  It would cannibalize iPod Touch sales.  It would indicate that Apple was far more concerned about the Kindle Fire than the numbers come close to justifying.  The list goes on.  Basically, the chances of such a product hitting shelves is slim at best.  Even if it happens, the final specs are certain to look nothing like what sites like iMore indicate unless the price is totally different from what they are expecting.  The Kindle Fire will continue to be the dominant $200 tablet for a while longer and Apple will continue to be disinterested.