Amazon is doing everything it can to keep its ebook platform relevant, and to help do that, the Web store went and partnered with Asus, who has agreed to pre-install the "Kindle for PC" application on select netbooks and notebooks sold at Amazon.com.
"We are thrilled that customers will begin to enjoy the Kindle for PC experience right out of the box with ASUS devices," said Ben Thacker, VP Sales and Product Management, Systems Business Group, North American Channel, ASUS Computer International. "Kindle is something our customers have been asking for and by pre-installing Kindle for PC on select long battery life products, we believe we are providing our customers an even richer PC experience. Working with a customer-centric company such as Amazon and pre-installing their Kindle for PC application is a natural fit for ASUS."
The move also helps Amazon stave off what's sure to be increasing competition by a handheld tablet market on the verge of exploding. Apple's iPad is just the first of what's expected to be many tablet releases this year, and as the iPad has shown, tablets are up to the task in performing ebook chores.
So far there are six Asus netbooks/notebooks sporting the Kindle app, including the 1005PE-MU27-BK, 1005PE-MU27-BU, 1005PE-MU27-WT, 1005PE-MU27-PI, UL30A-X5K, and UL30VT-X1K.
Amazon today announced that its Kindle for Android app will make its debut this summer. It will be available as a free download and give readers access to over 540,000 books in the Kindle Store. Amazon says that, like all Kindle apps, this one will include the company's Whisersync technology, which saves and synchronizes a customer's bookmarks across their Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, and of course their Android device.
"Kindle for Android is the perfect companion application for Kindle and Kindle DX owners, and is also a great way for customers to enjoy over 540,000 books in the Kindle Store even if they don't yet have a Kindle," said Jay Marine, director, Amazon Kindle. "We think customers are going to love the convenience and simplicity of having instant access to a massive selection of books from Amazon on their Droid, Nexus, Incredible and many more Android devices."
There isn't a whole lot new here, other than being able to use Kindle on your Android handset. Kindle for Android will let users choose between five different font sizes, read in portrait or landscape mode, browse by genre or author, read the beginning of books for free, and access their library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon's servers for no cost.
Nothing was said about upcoming tablet devices, but this could be prove to be a fairly significant development as Android-based tablets start to come out.
Despite releasing a Kindle app for the iPad, Amazon isn't giving up on their own hardware just yet. Lab 126, the Amazon department responsible for the Kindle hardware, has been on a hiring spree as of late. Many of the new positions are for testing and product creation. This indicates that Amazon may be readying new hardware.
This is further evidenced by their recent acquisition of Touchco, a touchscreen technology startup. Sources at Amazon that could not speak on record also indicated Amazon is working with publishers to discuss adding games to the Kindle platform. This could signal a direct assault on the iPad.
It's clear the Kindle needs to evolve. Compared to the iPad, it's looking a little dated considering the current price of $260. Even though the Kindle is meant for only one thing, we feel like it could stand to gain a few new features. It doesn't have to compare spec for spec with the iPad, but it has to change or risk obsolescence.
Amazon is preparing to rollout the 2.5 update for their successful Kindle ereader. Some of the new features seem like nice feature additions. The update has added the ability to password protect the devices lock screen. There is also enhanced support for PDF viewing that includes the ability to pan and zoom on the documents. Amazon is including the ability to organize the Kindle Library in "Collections" as well. That should definitely help cut down on the clutter. User's will also have the option of two new larger fonts.
Those are just the useful additions. Amazon is adding a new feature called "Popular Highlights" with a social slant. The service will let you share passages of a book on Twitter or Facebook. The idea is that you'd be able to see what bits of a book others find interesting as you're reading it. Seems like an interesting, if possibly distracting idea. Just be responsible people, and don't share the ending.
The update is set to come out via an over the air update later in May. Some lucky Kindle owners have gotten it early, however. Any Kindle users out there that are looking forward to this update?
Barnes and Noble had grand visions for its Nook ebook reader when the device first launch at the tail end of 2009, but other than an initial flurry of sales, the ebook reader hasn't been able to pluck the crown off of Amazon's market-leading Kindle. Maybe things are starting to turn around.
According to DigiTimes Research, ebook reader shipments to Barnes and Noble jumped ahead of shipment numbers to Amazon for the first time in March, indicating that demand for the Nook might finally be starting to pick up. Looking at figures from upstream suppliers, the Nook accounted for some 53 percent of ebook readers shipped to US vendors last month.
The Nook's future now looks a little brighter than it has been. B&N just recently released another firmware update -- version 1.3 -- which, among other things, purports to kick performance up a notch yet again. In addition, B&N recently struck a deal with Best Buy to carry the company's ebook reader both in the electronic chain's brick and mortar stores and website.
Reading a chapter or two before bed is a time honored tradition for most winding down at the end of the day, but if you ask a sleep expert, he'll probably tell you to put down the iPad and pick up a Kindle. According to those in the know, the iPad's bright LCD display could be reducing your body's ability to produce melatonin, an important compound that helps our bodies fall asleep.
"The take-home lesson is that insomnia and electronics gadgets emitting light should not [be] mixed before bedtime," UCLA Neurology Clinic Director Alon Avidan, also an associate professor at the university, wrote in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times. However, "Kindle is better for your sleep." When it comes to straight up readability, a recent Wall Street Journal study concluded that it really comes down to personal preference. Neither technology technically damages the eye, or flickers the way an old fashioned TV does.
So when you're looking for your next e-book reader, the Kindle vs. iPad debate might just come down to when you like to read. If a good book is the way you like to close out your day, your in luck, there are literally hundreds of options that are getting more and more affordable everyday.
Any iPad insomniacs in the audience care to chime in on the debate? Grab a coffee and let us know what you think after the jump.
Beginning April 25, you'll be able to stroll into Target's flagship downtown Minneapolis store or one of 102 south Florida stores and purchase Amazon's Kindle ebook reader, Target announced today.
"We’re excited to be working with Amazon to help even more readers discover Kindle, in-store only at Target," said Mark Schindele, senior vice president, Target. "We strive to enhance our product offerings to include surprising products and services at great values so we’re proud to be the first brick-and-mortar retailer to sell Kindle, allowing our guests to feel how lightweight and easy on the eyes Kindle is."
Prior to this, Kindle has only been available online direct from Amazon. But that was before the ebook reader wars got a lot more interesting when, earlier this month, Best Buy confirmed plans to carry Barnes and Noble's Nook. What's more, Apple's iPad and a flurry of other handheld tablets on tap threaten to cut into the Kindle's market share, and we suspect this limited brick and mortar run will end up expanding to other markets.
The Kindle will sell for the same price ($259) in Target as it does online.
The Nook hasn't exactly made the same splash the Kindle has, but it's apparently doing well enough that Barnes and Noble is planning new versions. The always fun "anonymous source" indicates that a "lite" version of the Nook without cell data will be shipping soon. This will shave a bit off the price of the device as the cost of lifetime data is built in. Users would still have data connectivity over Wi-Fi. This version is rumored to be priced at $199, breaking that psychological $200 barrier.
As for the Nook 2, there aren't many details other than Barnes and Noble is working on it. But the Nook Lite will be available by the end of the second quarter. It's not that we aren't appreciative of a $60 price cut, but it may not be enough. The Nook's software has been on the buggy side, and updates have been slow to appear. Though, the 1.4 build is expected soon.
The wireless data is a major selling point on these devices. It's unclear if people will be willing to make the trade off. Would you take the Lite version at that price over the regular Nook?
We're still a day away from the much anticipated launch of Apple's iPad, but already the tablet from Cupertino has managed to make its presence known. According to an AFP report, Amazon has agreed to let two more major publishers raise the prices of electronic books for Kindle readers in deals similar to those Apple struck for its iPad.
The deals with Simon & Schuster and Harper-Collins allows for ebook prices to be set at $12.99 or $14.99 rather than the $9.99 price point Amazon has tried to maintain.
This marks a major win for publishers, who previous to the iPad had little leverage in negotiating deals with Amazon. Amazon might have been on borrowed time anyway with the deluge of ebook readers expected to flood the market this year, and perhaps no one is happier right now than Rupert Murdoch, chairman and managing director of News Corp., the parent company of Harper-Collins.
"Without content, the ever larger and flatter screens, the tablets, the e-readers and the increasingly sophisticated mobile phones would be lifeless," Murdoch stated earlier this year. "Without content these ingenious and wonderful devices would be unloved and unsold."
Are you prepared to pay up to $15 for an ebook, or is the publishing industry shooting themselves in the foot?
Apple isn't the only one who stands to make a lot of money off of its iPad tablet - app developers do too. Enter Amazon, who along with Barnes & Noble, revealed to The New York Times plans to create new digital readers and storefronts for the iPad.
"We have actually developed a tablet-based interface that redesigns the core screen and the reading experience," said Ian Fred, vice president for Kindle at Amazon. "Our team had some fun with it."
According to NYT, the Kindle app for the iPad allows readers to slowly turn pages with their fingers. The interface also introduces a couple of new ways for owners to view their ebook collection, including a view where large thumbnails of book covers are displayed on a backdrop of a silhouetted figure reading under a tree. What's cool about the backdrop is that the sun's position coincides with whatever time it is.
Amazon has also set up a page to promote "Kindle Apps for Tablet Computers," which includes all tablets.
"Tablet computers, including the iPad, are coming and with our free app you'll be able to read more than 450,000 Kindle books," Amazon claims. "Like all Kindle apps, Kindle for table computers will include Whispersync technology, which automatically synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your Kindle and Kindle compatible devices including PC, Mac, iPhone, and BlackBery."