After all of this time and effort developing the Kindle line into such an overwhelmingly popular force in reading that the biggest publishers felt the need to break the law rather than be intimidated, I think it is fair to say that Amazon is not prepared to give up on the electronic books. Even knowing this, it is clear that they are lagging behind a bit in development while concentrating on other areas. Sooner or later they are going to have to pay a bit more attention to the Kindle eReaders and hopefully this will result in a few big changes.
The platform is still amazing. Nobody can beat the Kindle Store right now. A Kindle vs Nook comparison that excludes hardware is hardly worth making, it’s so one-sided. Apps and content alone won’t be enough to carry the line forever, though, and there are a few additions that are safe to guess at so long as Amazon doesn’t try to simply eliminate the competition by selling eBooks below wholesale now that the Agency Model is on its way out.
Lit Kindle Display
We’ve already had some rumors about this, but nothing solid has manifested so far. The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight already accomplishes this in a way that impresses and avoids the shortcomings of backlit LCD options. Offering a new generation of Kindle eReaders that lacked the feature would be a mistake.
Yes, the Kindle Collections system is better than nothing. It came as a welcome change to years of nothing at all to organize with. It even makes sense to handle things with tags, given the cloud-centric nature of Amazon’s services. Being able to better organize books is going to have to happen eventually, though, and it would be a big selling point for new customers if it came soon.
Physical Page Turn Buttons
You won’t find many people who are completely satisfied with the lack of physical page turn buttons on the Kindle Touch. It is a fine eReader, but this was a glaring omission that is genuinely hard to ever completely get used to. It can’t possibly increase costs enough to justify leaving it out and hopefully Amazon will realize that now.
Color E Ink Display
This one is a long shot, but being the first to offer an affordable, reliable, attractive color eReader would definitely be a coup for the Kindle line. With the lighting options that have been described by Kindle rumors and put in place on the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, it would be more possible than ever to make the otherwise dull color E Ink currently available look quite nice. The only question is whether Amazon is able to do that and still sell cheap eReaders.
Support For Online Communications
Let’s face it, the big thing everybody keeps pulling out for eReaders is the social media integration. Kindle, Kobo, Nook, whatever, they all want to let you post from inside the eReader. Take it a step further and let the next Kindle act as a portal for select communications (Facebook, Twitter, email, and maybe a few others) and you expand the attraction of the device at minimal cost. This reduces the emphasis on the single use nature of the Kindle, but it makes it that much more attractive to a segment of the user base that prefers to stay constantly connected at the same time. It’s a smart trade-off.