Amazon.com has been around for years now and offers a wide array of gadgets, electronics, books, and other wares at prices often better than you can find in local stores. The giant e-tailer has become such a popular shopping destination that it is one of the reasons many states are seeking to tax online and digital sales.
One of the most popular products on Amazon.com is one that it makes itself -- the Amazon Kindle. The Kindle is an eBook reader that offers a large screen with high contrast and is about the size of a typical book. Amazon launched the device and was quickly overwhelmed with the product demand leading to significant shortages of the device.
In fact, Amazon was unable to meet the demand and the product was unavailable over the important Christmas holiday shopping season last year. The current Kindle isn’t expected to be available until this month, if it is available at all.
Amazon is set to release a new version of its Kindle reader called the Kindle 2. The new reader hasn't been officially announced yet, but according to The Wall Street Journal, today is the launch day for the device.
Only little tidbits of information are known about the Kindle 2, one of which is that it will have a larger screen from the same maker as the original screen. Amazon is also expected to announce something that will put fear into the hearts of traditional publishers. Amazon will have Stephen King's newest novel as an exclusive for its device for an unknown period. The King story reportedly has a Kindle-like device at the heart of the tale.
As for the long and much talked about delays in getting stock of the original Kindle, official reasons haven't been offered by Amazon. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would only say, "We had anticipated strong demand and what we saw was stronger than that. So, we're extremely grateful for that, and we will keep marching forward here."
The Wall Street Journal reports that the screen of the original Kindle and the Kindle 2 are made by Chinese firm Prime View. When Prime View was asked about the delays a spokeswoman told the WSJ, "It wasn't about delivery delay. The sales were just faster than expected."
An analyst from iSuppli, Vinita Jakhanwal said, "Amazon might be managing the Kindle availability as it wants to keep the buzz on its product and improve features and performance with the launch of the second generation product. There doesn't seem to be any specific reason why Amazon was unable to meet the demand with its first generation product."
Amazon has been mum on exactly how many of the Kindle devices it sold so far. Estimates put the number at 500,000 to date based on data from Sprint Nextel, who provides the mobile broadband connection that the Kindle uses to download books wirelessly. Jakhanwal predicts that the Kindle will bring Amazon $1.2 billion in sales by 2010. The hoards of people still waiting for the original Kindle will presumably be receiving the new model, assuming Amazon can make enough Kindle 2 readers.
The Kindle 2 is now official and listed on the Amazon.com site for pre-order. According to the official page, the Kindle 2 is set to ship on February 24 for $359. The device is a bit more than 1/3 of an inch thick, weighs 10.2 ounces, and has integrated 3G wireless connectivity with no monthly fees.
Amazon says that the battery life is 25% longer and pages turn 20% faster than on the original. The new device offers text-to-speech and can read stories to you. The display is a 6-inch diagonal E-Ink unit with a resolution of 600 x 800 pixels at 167 ppi in 16-level gray scale.