All signs point to there being multiple incarnations of the upcoming Kindle Tablet being released in a variety of shapes and sizes. It isn’t necessarily a new idea in hardware design, but it indicates a willingness on Amazon’s part to consider the potential needs of the customer’s media consumption habits and strive to accommodate. Generally good news for all of us consumers.
How far are they willing to go, though? I’ve been thinking about potential variations on the Kindle design that might fairly specific needs as a reading device. It’s purely speculative, of course, but it could be interesting to see some of these products hit the shelves.
Pocket Sized Kindle
In a way, the Kindle Tablet line is already likely to take care of this. Among the rumored devices that we have heard about so far is one meant specifically to compete with cell phones and iPod Touch devices. Since the assumption that most people are making is that Amazon wouldn’t be crass enough to go with LCD screens after building an entire anti-iPad ad campaign around the shortcomings of LCD screens, that would result in an immediate pocket eReader.
What about a cheap, thin, low power device specifically for reading, though? I picture a bare bones device with few of the more fancy features of the Kindle that you just happen to be able to carry around in your pocket for 2-3 months at a time between charges while reading your way through the daily commute. Not necessarily the most exciting option, but it would likely gain some customers.
Drawing on the portability concept a bit more, how about an audio-only Kindle? Yes, I know that there are MP3 players beyond number available both through Amazon.com and in every electronics store, convenience store, gas station, and garage sale you’re likely to come across. This would make sense as a way for Amazon to push Audible Audio Books even further at the same time as they offhandedly expand the customer base for the Cloud Player. A focus on the audio book functionality, perhaps even with integration of a text-to-speech reader or something, would set the device apart from things like the iPad in people’s minds without limiting the usability as a music player. Something to consider.
I’m not talking about a scaled down Kindle a la the Sony Reader Pocket. Instead, think of a slightly toughened design meant to put up with the use and abuse of children. The existing Kindle is great, and quite durable, but I’ve seen more than one destroyed by irate or simply poorly coordinated kids. Parents love the idea of getting their Kids to read, and having the ability to bring something like the Kindle to them without the danger of losing the comparatively large investment would probably be a welcome concept.
The only question in my mind is whether this needs to be its own device or if it could be accomplished better by simply making a particularly rugged case. Would a case of any sort be able to handle impacts, light crushing, liquids, and more? I honestly don’t know enough to say. Anything that opens the Kindle up to being a teaching tool for young children is great, though. This one may not be really worth it until the full color Kindle Tablets make their way to market since kids books are known for being colorful, but why ignore the potential?