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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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December 2014
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Kindle Black Friday Specials for 2012

Every year Black Friday sales get more hyped and involve more ridiculous deals.  In some cases that’s a bad thing, especially when it involves camping outside stores for silly amounts of time to get a chance at one of the only two units available in a particular sale.  In many others it’s just a great time to save some money.

Since we know that a sale is on the way let’s take a look at what to expect as far as discounts this week.

According to Buyer’s Review, we can expect the following deals in brick & mortal stores this Friday:

  • Best Buy: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159.99 bundled with free $30 Best Buy Gift Card
  • Office Depot: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159.99 bundled with $25 Visa Card
  • Staples: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159, bundled with $20 Staples Gift Card
  • Office Max: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159
  • Best Buy: 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $199.99 free $30 Best Buy Gift Card included
  • Office Max: 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $199, bundled with $25 Office Max Gift Card
  • Staples: 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $199, bundled with $20 Staples Gift Card
  • Staples: 32GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $249, bundled with $20 Staples Gift Card

We do have every reason to believe that Amazon will use this opportunity to further promote the Kindle line directly through their own storefront as well, though.

Sadly, we’re not going to be seeing a sale on the Kindle Paperwhite.  The eReader side of things has proven so popular since the Paperwhite was released that an order today will take over a month to get to its destination, just barely making it in time for Christmas if you spring for 2-day shipping.  In a matter of days it will likely be impossible to order a Kindle Paperwhite and have it before 2013.

We will certainly be seeing this sale day used as an opportunity to promote the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, however.  An effort was clearly made to get the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” out before Black Friday, which indicates that the larger tablet will be a part of the promotion as well.

Looking at the store offers above, nobody is actually discounting the Kindle Fires themselves.  All that is being added is a promo gift card.  Given all the blowback Amazon has been getting from these same retailers about showrooming, I expect that the online deal will go a bit further.  How much further is difficult to predict, but 10-20% off the price would create a huge surge of interest.

Remember that Amazon is using the Kindle Fire as a cheap option for content sales.  They’re not making much on the devices themselves.  As such I don’t think we can expect to see a $99 Kindle Fire, even using refurbished 1st Gen models.  Since recent teardowns point to there being a bit more profit than the earlier generation allowed for in a single unit, however, they have some leeway.

I know that I’ll be watching for a $160 Kindle Fire HD and I would be surprised if I don’t see one by the end of the week.

Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire: Should Amazon Really Be Concerned?

 Hardware specs aren’t everything when it comes to tablet performance.  If they were, the Kindle Fire never would have gotten off the ground.  Still, the Nexus 7 from Google is far enough ahead in that respect that if you are buying a $199 tablet right this second the choice is clear.  People invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, or interested in choosing what is quickly becoming the leading provider of digital media, will still grab the Kindle Fire.  Everybody else would want the Nexus 7.  It is just better at being a general purpose tablet.

This doesn’t mean that Google has won, though.  They are in the lead for the moment, but we have months before sales spike again and in the meantime Amazon will be releasing their new hardware.  Even if it doesn’t stand out as completely superior to Google’s device, the next Kindle Fire will draw a crowd for any number of reasons.  Nothing else in the Android market has managed to compete on the same level so far and it isn’t just because Amazon dropped prices.

There was a time when I would have predicted that Google of all companies would be quick to adapt to the competition.  The delays surrounding the Nexus 7’s release tend to indicate that this is not the case.  The company had trouble getting the power they needed to make this an ideal showcase for Android 4.1 while also keeping the price down at $199.  With Amazon clearly being willing to subsidize their hardware to bring in media customers, that price will almost certainly not be rising.  The Kindle Fire’s hardware will be improved nonetheless, though.

Right now, as I said, it is a clear choice.  If you truly want a tablet right now and can’t afford to wait, the Nexus 7 is the best thing on the market and you will not be disappointed.  Nobody else is going to release such an affordable yet functional general purpose Android tablet right now.  By the end of the year things will be more chaotic.  Customers will be facing holiday choices involving not only Kindle Fire vs Nexus 7 or Android vs iOS, but Everybody vs Windows 8.

All of the hardware looks like it is going to be impressive and tablet sales numbers are expected to be higher than ever.  Google will have had their tablet in peoples’ hands for longer than any of the major players besides Apple by that point.  It allows a lot of time for interest to have cooled in the meantime.  They are rumored to be trying to offset that by scheduling a later release of the Nexus 10, but the same rumors mention setbacks due to manufacturing difficulties so that may be off the table for a while.

Realistically, I think it is fair to say that Amazon will continue to be a major player (possibly THE major player) in Android tablets for the indefinite future.  The only thing they really have to worry about is the downfall of Android if Windows 8 tablets take off.  Google’s devices are going to be better at running stock Android builds, but Amazon has never tried to pass the Kindle Fire off as the most powerful device on the market.  As long as they can keep the comparisons from going too far in favor of the competition, the integrated media services will carry the sales.

Analyst Says Short-Term Kindle Demand Falling, DOJ Settlements May Upset Those Predictions

According to some recent research by Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley, the demand for both Kindle E Ink eReaders and Kindle Fire tablets has fallen noticeably from Q4 2011 to Q1 2012.  There is some fairly compelling argument to be made, however, that changing any predictions based on this would be at best premature.  Regardless of the way things stood a month ago, the Kindle world is about to be turned upside down and interest can’t help but rise as a result.

This is not meant to be a criticism of Bartley’s analysis.  Based on the information at hand when he was writing, his report was accurate.  A combination of consumer polls about intended purchasing and inside information about Amazon’s supply chains show a marked decline in interest in Kindles from month to month.  He attributes this to a maturation of the eReader market, an increasingly well covered customer base, and consumer willingness to read on a variety of things besides eReaders.  All good points.

Since we now know that three of the Big 6 publishers have already settled with the US Department of Justice to avoid an ongoing legal defense of their price fixing arrangement, that is all more or less irrelevant.  The beginning of the end of the Agency Model will mean a return to lower prices on popular eBooks and a far more active marketing campaign on Amazon’s part.  There has literally never been a better time to buy a Kindle.

Regardless of where you stand on the state of publishing, it is undeniable that things are about to change in such a way as to allow for lower pricing.  As most of the problem with adopting eReading recently has been the fact that eBooks are commonly priced higher than their paper counterparts, changing the balance of things will open up new markets for the Kindle.  Customers who were previously on the fence about a purchase will now have much more appealing opportunities in front of them and Kindle ownership will be that much simpler to justify as paying for itself in savings over a short period of time for any active reader.

Will there be ongoing and constant increase in interest in the Kindle?  It is probable that sales will plateau at some point.  It is also probable that Amazon’s luck from the DOJ has pushed that point off into the future a bit. Estimates may be down for the moment, but they will be revised soon enough.  If anybody knows how to exploit a major opportunity like this, it is Amazon.

This is a great time to have a Kindle.  If you don’t have one of your own yet, it might be useful to check out the Kindle Keyboard.  Still in many ways the best iteration of the product line to date, it will serve you well in any reading situation. Might as well take advantage of the situation, since the customer benefits more than anybody in all of this.

Kindle Fire 2: Cameras and More Expected

For a while now the big issue in predicting the ongoing success of the Kindle Fire has been the anticipated iPad 3.  It was going to be a small scale device, roughly comparable in size to the Fire, and be priced closely enough that Amazon would have no choice but to step up in a huge way or give up entirely.  So said the rumors, at least.  Now that we know better, there is still the issue of what to expect in future releases from Amazon.

Clearly their tablet interests are an ongoing sort of thing.  We already have fairly substantial rumors about the second generation of Kindle Fire being planned for this summer.  If we take the original Kindle eReader as any indication, the first offering may have been little more than a probe into the market to see what potential there was for profit.  Despite its popularity, the original Kindle didn’t hold a candle to the Kindle 2 even given the lack of substantial competition in the early days of the line and this has many wondering if the same level of improvement is in store for the Kindle Fire 2.

The most recent semi-reliable rumors seem to center around a 10” Kindle Fire being in the works.  This would be a simultaneous release alongside an update to the 7” version, of course, but it would indicate a serious change of approach by Amazon in drawing direct parallels with the market-leading iPad.  This is not out of character in any way, looking at past ads that highlight both the Kindle eReader’s greater suitability for reading in sunlight and the Kindle Fire’s dramatically lower pricing, but drawing increased attention to direct hardware comparisons is a bold move.

To support this, Amazon will clearly have to have a lot of improvements waiting for us.  What can be expected?  Here are some of my predictions for later this year:

  • Cameras – both front and rear facing cameras suitable for video chat, probably VGA quality.
  • Bluetooth – Kindle accessories are a big deal and this would open the door to everything from keyboards to wireless headsets.  Essential for getting the most out of the tablet as a video player.
  • 16GB+ Onboard Storage – The complaint about local disk space might be slightly over-emphasized for many users, but it’s hard to imagine not occasionally butting up against an 8GB limit.  Cloud storage is great, but 16GB is not too much to ask.
  • Android 4.0 – While this one is hard to say for sure, given potential complications with updating the Kindle Fire’s custom OS fork to take advantage of newer versions of Google’s product, the fact that it was designed with tablets in mind and offers a lot of new features means that an update must at least be in consideration at the moment.

There will not be major changes of philosophy.  Users will not be seeing slots for expandable memory, for example.  There will also obviously be no chance of an open system that connects easily to Google Play.  The new Kindle Fire 2, when it comes out, will be more of what we expect from the first generation in most ways.  It will just take what is already an impressive experience and build on it to do the job better.

Amazon Addressing Kindle Fire Criticisms In Upcoming Update

While overall the response the the Kindle Fire has been overwhelmingly positive, there have been a number of ongoing complaints that hold some merit.  Some professional critics, as well as Amazon.com reviewers, have been incredibly negative.  In response to some of the more important issues, Amazon is planning to release a content update within the next two weeks.  That does not necessarily tell us what will be addressed, of course, but educated guesses are possible.

Much of this is speculation, of course, but there are a few things that need to be taken care of right now that Amazon would be foolish to delay on.  My predictions:

Likely To Be Addressed

Connectivity Issues

Some users have experienced ongoing problems with their WiFi connections.  Whether these take the form of a complete inability to connect or an intermittent and unreliable connection, they get in the way of enjoying what is meant to be a portable means of streaming internet content.

Privacy & Parental Controls

Let’s face it, no matter how this was marketed it would end up in the hands of kids.  It’s durable, gives easy access to books and movies, and lasts for hours.  It makes little sense, then, to have such vague and occasionally buggy parental controls.  Censorship might be bad, but few people think that everything a parent enjoys is suitable for their children.

Expect something that will allow either blocking of media content based on content ratings or a Whitelist system to designate child-approved titles.  The ability to remove items from the home screen’s shelf and the account’s app selection will be vital in this area as well.

Responsiveness

While usually fine, in my experience, the Kindle Fire occasionally has a spurt of input lag that gets in the way of a seamless user experience.  My understanding is that this some people far harder than it has me, possibly depending on what the tablet is being used for.  Look for some degree of performance optimization to address this.

Possible Update Features

Improved Browser Configuration

The Silk web browser is a decent enough application for a mobile device, but has yet to really impress people.  A great deal of that is that it will take time for the predictive features made possible by the two part browser setup to begin paying off in any major way, but we can’t count on that ever happening until proof shows up.  For now it would be enough to get the ability to prioritize mobile versions of sites, since the 7″ screen is less than ideal in some cases.

Categories

Missing up to this point has been the ability to organize your purchases, be they books or apps, in any way.  They are simply either on the Kindle Fire or in the Cloud.  This is something that I am certain will come up down the line, but it is unclear how much of a priority it will be.

Improved Netflix Streaming Option

Let’s face it, the Nook Tablet is currently doing precisely one thing that is clearly superior to the Kindle Fire.  It draws from the HD stream on Netflix content and downscales rather than the other way around.  No reason this should not be an option for Kindle owners, though this may be dependent more on a Netflix agreement than a device update.

We’ll know soon enough what is going to be addressed. and I think it is fair to assume that while the vital fixes will be quick they will also be followed by more substantial feature improvements as time goes on.  If nothing else, if the next generation of Kindle Fire is expected as early as six months from now then they’ll want to be optimizing in the meantime.

300,000+ books in the Kindle Store

I just noticed that as of 5th of June, 2009 Kindle store surpassed 300,000 books. I was about to brag about how close my prediction was when I noticed that I made a typo when I was typing that post one month ago. I meant to write 13th of June but from July. Seriously…

Anyway, this is 8 days ahead of my mistyped prediction…