A combination of the high expectations surrounding the upcoming Amazon Kindle Tablet and the lack of substantial information regarding the expected hardware update to the existing Kindle eReader line has led to some speculation about secretly substantial change being just around the corner for the bestselling eReading device. Domain name acquisitions have pushed some people into a belief in the importance of a touchscreen for the Kindle, but more ambitious sources are holding out hope for a truly impressive jump forward. Wouldn’t having the first affordable Color E INK eReader be quite the coup for Amazon, after all? It would certainly make the Nook Simple Touch a bit less shiny by comparison.
Still, and I say this with nothing but regret, there is next to no chance that we will be getting a true Kindle Color any time soon. Sure the Kindle Tablet will have the ability to read, but only in the same way that the Nook Color or your average smartphone can technically be an eReader if the user so desires. Until screen technology advances a bit further, nobody is likely to want to gamble on a good color reading display.
The problem right now is the tradeoffs. To make a Kindle Color worthwhile, Amazon would need to have a vibrant color display that didn’t detract from the existing touted benefits of the Kindle’s display. That means you can’t have a back-light, high battery draw, or less than crisp text. Nothing currently being produced meets all those criteria while still being affordable enough to keep things competitive. If they did, the Kindle Tablet would be looking at such a screen and would have a significant advantage over every other Tablet PC on sale today.
Naturally something has to give. The Kindle device is going strong at the moment, but that’s mostly sue to a combination of momentum and strong backing from the platform as a whole. If the hardware faces too much competition that can match or surpass it, Kindle sales and by extension Kindle eBook sales will suffer. Amazon has to know this. As such, I would say that getting your hopes up for an updated Kindle is totally safe.
What can we expect if not a color screen? Well, a touchscreen is inevitable to match the competition from B&N, Sony, and Kobo, if nothing else. Given the Kindle Scribe rumors, it wouldn’t be at all shocking if a stylus were included in the design. Since nobody else is using 3G coverage Amazon could technically let that slip, but the recent ad deal with AT&T would seem to indicate that they value the ability to bring that sort of thing to customers. Beyond these things, however, it’s anybody’s guess. Higher resolution screens? Bluetooth? Strange magical powers? All possibilities!
Current speculation places the updated Kindle‘s release in late October, but that information is several weeks old now. Given the most recent Kindle Tablet developments, and the fact that Amazon is likely to emphasize the new branch of Kindle products heavily for this holiday season, we may not be seeing new Kindles before late November. More updates will show up here as we dig them up.