Will Kindle 2.0 trigger ebook mass adoption?

9 Feb 2009

As Amazon prepares to unveil the highly anticipated second generation of its eReader gadget, the Kindle, it is expected that the new model will have a bit more oomph with Stephen King rumoured to be adding an exclusive bone-chilling title to the device.

Amazon’s first generation of the Kindle appeared to be selling well last year with over 500,000 units shipped in 2008, according to Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney, who claimed on AlleyInsider that the product will be a US$1bn earner for Amazon by 2010.

Strange, considering it was a slow burner from its release back in November 2007, only picking up sales-wise a year later.

In fact, Mahaney claims that the Kindle will see the same growth curve as the adoption of the iPod. But will the Kindle’s new improved features push this even further?

Although us gadgeteers here in Ireland have yet to get our hands on the first iteration of the Amazon product, we can rest safely in the knowledge that when it does finally reach our shores, it will have the latest features.

Before we take a look at the new additions to the Kindle 2.0, it is worth noting that in Ireland our alternative is the Sony Reader, which has no competing features that would help it achieve mass adoption: the Kindle’s killer features are the fact that it is wireless and allows the user to download RSS feeds and ebooks without hooking up to a PC or laptop.

It is also directly connected to Amazon’s pretty sizeable online ebook store of hundreds of thousands of titles. Apart from a few niggly design features, I think we’re sold!

The new Kindle is expected to begin selling on 24 February for US$359 – the same price as the current model – and has a brand new body – all white, sleek and curved (kinda like an early iPod!).

While it has no SD card slot for increasing storage, it is expected to come with 2GB memory on board, and remember we’re talking about mainly storing text here, not much video or audio.

The user interface has also got a re-design with smaller buttons, while the scroll wheel has been dumped in favour of a navigational joystick for getting from page to page.

But the big question is: will it come with ‘new book’ smell? We doubt it.

By Marie Boran

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