All Aboard for new Kindle(s?)

Note: Stephen Windwalker of the inimitable Kindle Nation Daily asked me to live-blog the Amazon press conference tomorrow in NYC, at which there will be some kind of announcement involving the Kindle. We’ve set up this Google Docs page that I’m posting to, and Steve will port some of the posts to KND.  I thought I’d cross-post here as well, for the benefit of those of you who are subscribed to this blog on Kindle.   –Len

Aboard Amtrak Acela Express 2163


As the Acela zooms through the woods of Rhode Island, providing an occasional glimpse of the sea, I want to turn to what we think we know about what Amazon is going to announce tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Stage 37 in New York City.

Of course there will be a tablet, the one that TechCrunch’s MG Siegler held in his very own hands and has since learned its name, the Kindle Fire.  Kindle Chronicles listeners may remember that Forrester Research’s James McQuivey had a code name for the tablet he predicted Amazon should create, way back in February of 2010. The name was, uh, the Kindle Flame. So there’s a backstory to tell some day about that one.

I like Flame better than Fire, but what I’m really hot for is some action on the E Ink side of the house. Siegler suggested that wasn’t going to happen tomorrow, but there is new intel out this morning that I was delighted to see at Andrys Basten’s Kindle World.  Via AppleInsider, she relayed a report that there will be not one, but two new Kindle E Ink devices announced – one with a touch screen and one with fewer features, like no audio, for the magic price of $99.  These babies have even cooler code names than the Flame. The new touch Kindle is codenamed Whitney, and the bare-bones model is Tequila, according to AppleInsider’s post.

This makes a lot of sense to me, because I couldn’t figure out how Jeff Bezos was going to spend an entire press conference extolling a new tablet device that reads books and plays movies and plays musicand runs all the apps in Amazon’s Android app store.  Wasn’t he the one whose voice quivered with passion whenever he talked about a device purpose-built for reading?  That seemed like a pretty tough pivot to make, and the only way out of it would have been, as I saw someone suggest, to announce tomorrow that Amazon is dropping the K3 with special offers price to $99.

But there’s no need to give an inch on the importance of the dedicated E Ink readers if Amazon tomorrow announces two brand new devices for that line.  That would show they still believe they created something wonderful for the minority of Americans who read more than a book a year. For that group, and I’m pretty much a member, it’s nice there will be a new tablet, but we’re not really expecting to switch our reading of books from E Ink to a color LCD screen.  I know there are many serious readers who are just fine with LCD screens, like my friend from the U.K., Eolake Stobblehouse.  A lot of this comes down to a matter of taste and aesthetics.

In any event,  I hope AppleInsider is right on this and that tomorrow morning I’ll have a chance to get my hands on two new E Ink Kindles as well as the Torch, I mean Fire — oh, whatever.  They can call it Baboon Breath if they want, and it will still probably sell out in the first six hours it’s available.

The Acela has slowed down a bit, perhaps to give us a better view of a lovely harbor filled with white boats and a forest of masts on water calm as glass.  The woman next to me is eating a big salad out of a plastic bowl and looking at a paper Atlas with a map of the U.S. All’s quiet here in the Quiet Car, except for the tapping of a totally wired Kindle enthusiast riding the rails to a big dose of What’s Next.

11:15 a.m.

That’s an on-time departure as the train wends its way carefully through a maze of tracks and overhead electric wires. I simply can’t imagine a better way to travel. If we arrive on time, I’ll be at Penn Station by 2:45 p.m. I plan to host a Google Plus hangout once I reach the GEM Hotel, so if you’d like to participate, please send me an email at PodChronicles AT and I’ll add you to my TKC Hangout circle. If you are not on G+ yet, let me know, and I’ll send you an invite.

11:05 a.m.

At Boston’s South Station, I just took my seat on the quiet car, where passengers are asked to please refrain from loud talking or using cell phones. Sounds good to me. Most of the car is empty, so I’ve spread my gear on the aisle seat. ” Your seat is now a hot spot,” a decal on the window says, and sure enough, I’m surfing just fine on the iPad 2.

I read a post by Andrys Basten with word that two new E Ink devices will be announced tomorrow at the Amazon press conference, along with the tablet . That’s VERY good news for those of us intrigued by the new color tablet but devoted to our E Ink readers.


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