Amazon’s next generation Kindle – christened Kindle Fire – is due to be announced tomorrow (Wednesday 28th September). The Kindle Fire will actually be backlit tablet – ie a similar display to an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab – rather than the pioneering e-Ink display of previous Kindles. Fans of the existing Kindle shouldn’t worry, however – the Kindle Fire is basically the beginning of a completely separate product line and the existing e-Ink Kindle will continue to be updated and probably get cheaper and cheaper too. A new version of the e-Ink Kindle will probably be out at the same time as the Kindle Fire, ready for the Christmas rush.
While you will be able to read Kindle books on the Kindle Fire using a free Kindle app (just like you can on any existing Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android tablet blah blah blah) the Kindle Fire is not really about books. What it’s about is getting eyeballs onto all Amazon’s other products besides books – video, music etc etc. It’s a heavily modified Android tablet that will seamlessly integrate with Amazon services, delivering content with one seductive click and scarily easy debit of a credit card. Techcrunch has the full scoop, including a mockup of what it looks like (BlackBerry’s ill-fated PlayBook, apparently).
Personally, having used the Kindle app on my iPad to read books for a few months, I gave in and bought a Kindle and haven’t looked back since. If you like to read a lot – and Spike readers surely do – an actual bona fide Kindle is worth getting – I found reading a full length book off a backlit screen eventually hurt my eyes, even though it feels very comfortable at first. The Kindle, by contrast, feels a bit dowdy at first because there’s no light source emanating from it but my reading has gone through the roof since I got it because it’s much more easy on the eye, much more portable and lightweight than an iPad and it’s also scarily easy to get the books I want delivered straight to the device.
The Amazon Kindle Fire is set to be another game changer for sure, but whether it will do much for books beyond what the original Kindle has already pioneered remains to be seen.