May 14 Amazon.com Inc will launch new
versions of its Kindle e-reader and tablet, including a
monochrome e-reader with front lighting, a source who has seen
the prototype told Reuters.
The world's largest Internet retailer is aiming to have the
new e-reader in stores in July, said the source, who has direct
knowledge of the matter but asked not to be named because Amazon
has not yet made the decision public.
Amazon has been ramping up production of the new Kindle,
which will run on E Ink's display, the source said.
Amazon's Kindle e-reader has been popular, but readers have
had to buy an external light to attach to the device to read in
the dark. The front light eliminates that problem.
"I do see demand for a front-lit Kindle," said Jennifer
Colegrove, Vice President of Emerging Display Technologies at
DisplaySearch, an NPD Group company, which monitors trends in
the display sector.
There is a trade-off, she said: "Front-lit will consume
battery power and (it'll) run out ... quicker."
Amazon also plans to launch a new tablet closer to the
holiday season later this year, the source said. The new Kindle
Fire is expected to have a bigger diagonal display of 8.9
inches, bringing it closer in size to Apple Inc's iPad.
The company did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment.
"We don't comment on our customers' launch plans," said Sri
Peruvemba, Chief Marketing Officer for E Ink Holdings, the
supplier of Kindle's ePaper technology.
"E Ink is an innovator and for the past 10 years, we have
consistently delivered new products, major enhancements to
existing products, and unique designs, so it is not surprising
that there is constant speculation about what we will do next,"
While Barnes & Noble was the first to market with a
glowing e-reader, there has been speculation about Amazon being
a close second.
Amazon will launch the new Kindle e-reader in the touch 3G
and touch wi-fi versions, the source said.
"They can afford to add a front light because the component
is not very expensive and their display otherwise uses very
little energy," said Colegrove.
An increase of about $10 above the current prices should be
"quite reasonable," she said.
The source said Amazon was likely to keep prices the same, or
raise them by a very small margin, if at all.
Some blogs had speculated on the possibility of a
color-equipped e-reader, but the source said that there was very
little chance of Amazon launching one this year. Though Amazon
has held can talks with E Ink, the companies haven't reached any
concrete decisions yet, he said.
Vinita Jakhanwal, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, which tracks
electronic component supply chains, said when she looked at the
color e-paper product in a trade show in October, that it needed
"a lot of technological improvements" to be used in a products
in large volumes.
"I doubt if the color Kindle is ready for a launch," she