Amazon Introduces two All-New Kindles including Kindle Voyage, their most advanced Kindle ever

Amazon today introduced the 7th generation of Kindle with Kindle Voyage, claimed as the most advanced e-reader ever, and the new $79 Kindle, with a 20% faster processor, twice the storage, with a touch interface. Continue reading Amazon Introduces two All-New Kindles including Kindle Voyage, their most advanced Kindle ever

Amazon Unveils The New Kindle PaperWhite

After Nokia’s event yesterday, it’s Amazon’s turn today to try to grab the limelight, and it seems to be succeeding so far. It has unveiled three new Kindles at its event so far.

The Kindle PaperWhite is Amazon’s newest Kindle. It comes with a back-lit PaperWhite display developed by Amazon, which enables users to read books without any external light source and doesn’t cause any strain on the eyes, which is why people prefer reading on Kindles.

The display has a higher resolution and offers 62% more pixels with a density of 212 ppi as well as higher contrast. Despite having a back-lit display, it can still offer around 8 weeks of battery life, which is pretty impressive.

It also comes with the standard list of Kindle features like instant book delivery, Whispersync, Free Amazon cloud storage for your content, access to a huge library of books on Amazon etc.

The Amazon PaperWhite has been priced at $119, and ships on October 1. Amazon also launched a 3G enabled version of the Kindle PaperTouch at $179.

Besides that, it refreshed its Kindle and dropped the price down to $69. This will be the entry-level Kindle targeting low budget users.

via The Verge

Kobo Unveils New eReaders and an Android Tablet

Kobo, which has been largely overshadowed by Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the eReader category, has announced a series of new devices targeted primarily at the eReader and tablet markets. It has launched two new eReaders, Kobo Glo and Kobo Mini, and an Android tablet, the Kobo Arc.

Kobo Mini

The Kobo Mini is a $79 device which comes with a 5 inch E-ink display and 2 GB of internal storage. It also offers Wi-Fi and will compete with the basic Kindle.

Kobo Glo

The Kobo Glo is a $129 device, and comes with a ComfortLight display which enables night-time reading. It has a 6 inch display, and couples internal storage with a microSD slot.

Kobo Arc

This is the most interesting device Kobo unveiled. It is a 7 inch tablet which is priced at $199 for 8 GB and $249 for 16 GB. It comes with a 1.5 GHz dual core processor, and is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, presumably with a customized Kobo UI. It also has 1 GB of RAM and an IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels.

However, we expect Amazon to release an upgraded Kindle Fire today, which could pretty easily beat this device, not only in terms of hardware, but also pricing and content.

Let’s just wait and watch.

via Techcrunch

Finally, Kindle Arrives in India – At the Stores and on

Amazon has finally launched India Kindle Store with the largest selection and lowest prices of any e-bookstore in India. The India Kindle Store would feature a vast selection of titles from a range of Indian authors priced in Indian Rupees (INR) catering to a growing number of Kindle users in India who’ve ordered their devices from Amazon US. That too will change now, since Indian customers can now purchase Kindle at Croma retail stores across India.

“We are excited to be the first retailer in India to offer the latest generation Kindle to our customers. This product will launch exclusively in all Croma stores across India at an introductory price of 6,999 INR.”

– Mr. Ajit Joshi, CEO and Managing Director, Croma

With the availability of Kindle on retail shelves and the ability to download ebooks from India authors, Kindle would soon see mainstream adoption even if it continues to battle unfair comparisons from tablet devices at every price point. In my opinion, it makes for an affordable gift for not just voracious readers but also young students and senior family members.

Along with this announcement, Amazon also launched Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for independent authors and publishers in India. KDP is a fast, free and easy way for authors and publishers to make their books available to Kindle customers in India and around the world.

Amazon Introduces Kindle Fragmentation with Dilbert 2.0

Amazon is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Scott Adams’s Dilbert, by bringing the four volumes of the Dilbert 2.0 anthology in digital format for the first time ever, exclusively on Kindle Fire. These comic collections are available in full color and displayed on Kindle Fire with Kindle Panel View, a proprietary technology that offers an immersive comic and graphic novel reading experience.


Dilbert, the touchstone of office humor. was the first syndicated comic strip to go online in 1995 and is the most widely read syndicated comic on the Internet. The four volumes for Kindle Fire are available for $7.99 each.

  • Dilbert 2.0: The Early Years, 1989 to 1993
  • Dilbert 2.0: The Boom Years, 1994 to 1997
  • Dilbert 2.0: The Dot-Com Bubble, 1998 to 2000
  • Dilbert 2.0: The Modern Era, 2001 to 2008

The announcement clearly states that these volumes are only available for Kindle Fire devices and Kindle for Android. This is strange since Amazon is favoring one over the other amongst their own devices. I have a third-generation Kindle and I have several friends who use an iPad and buy all their books and subscribe to magazines via Kindle’s iOS app. Amazon’s disturbing move has kept us, the loyal Kindle Store customers, away. While several experts crib about the fragmentation in the Android ecosystem owing to diverse OEMs, Amazon’s step is even more annoying. Although the experience of a comic strip would be different on a colored LCD screen and a grayscale e-ink display, the choice should be left with the customers.


Microsoft and Barnes & Noble: From ‘Complicated’ to ‘In a Relationship’

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble Inc. have joined hands to announce a strategic partnership – A B&N subsidiary, provisionally referred to as Newco. After the patent dispute between the two companies last year, this surprising new venture aims to focus on e-reading and the education market while burying the patent litigation apparently.

B&N will own 82.4 percent of the new subsidiary and Microsoft will make a $300 million investment to hold a 17.6 percent stake in the company. Newco, will bring together the digital and College businesses of Barnes & Noble. B&N’s NOOK Study software is a leading platform for distribution and management of digital education materials to students and educators, and Newco would aim to extend this reach. The alliance would also bring about a NOOK application for Windows 8 bringing Barnes & Noble’s digital bookstore to hundreds of millions of Windows customers worldwide.

As the two companies move forward as allies, there are few things which aren’t answered in the press release and the commentary around it:

  • While the two companies closed on the alliance, how was the patent dispute tabled and settled? Would Barnes & Noble and/or Newco pay royalties to Microsoft on every Nook sold?
  • While Windows 8 tablets are expected to have a NOOK application now, and this might extend to the next version of Windows Phone, would there be a Nook tablet or e-reader running, maybe, Windows RT to participate in the market against Kindle and Kindle Fire?
  • While Microsoft has less than a fifth stake in the venture, would the reach of Windows platform make Nook Microsoft’s card in competition with Amazon and Apple in the e-reading market?

Google Pad Coming Up In July

Google had initially planned to launch an iPad competitor in May, but the release of that device has been delayed till at least July to give it a competitive price. Said to be priced at around $200 (down from the original $250), this device is almost a steal when compared to the reduced-price iPad versions.

There were always strong rumors about Google releasing its tablet in the first half of this year. Currently,  the company plans to seek approval from Chinese authorities to go ahead and use Motorola facilities to manufacture hardware products that it will release in future.d to the reduced-price iPad versions. As Google already offers phones co-
stared by Samsung, moving into the tablet market will not be a random move as it partners with Asus in this venture.

Techie-buzz has already broken the news that the tablet will be available through the Google online tablet stores. Google has recently rebranded their market place as Google Play, which collates its app stores, ebook stores, and so on. As its ecosystem is setting up, hopefully, this product will not be a fiasco like the Google phone (though there are claims that it was a pilot test for Google anyway). It remains to be seen if that product was just a dry run for mass deployment of future Google hardware products.

Some features that are rumored to be part of the Google tablet are:

  • 7-inch display
  • Wifi
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor (or dual-core processor)

The question on my mind is on which features will Google compromise on save costs; the hardware quality or the processor?

This device would also be a strong competitor for the Kindle Fire. It seems to target the market segment where volume sales are a higher priority than quality features (as is the iPad’s focus). It is already hard enough for other devices like the Kindle Fire to even come close to matching the iPad’s popularity primarily because of its lack of hardware features like the camera, in addition to the relatively smaller repository of apps. It remains to be seen what the “Google Pad” will bring to the market.

Nexus Tablet: Why It is Different from a Nexus Phone

Google Nexus Phone

In the past few days, the rumors of Google making and selling their own tablet have gained steam. The rumors also point to a Kindle Fire-like price point of $199. The instant reaction is to look at Google’s earlier attempt to sell hardware directly to consumers, the Nexus One phone. We know it was a failed experiment which Google acknowledged, by shutting down the operations.

Nexus tablet, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I have firmly believed that tablets should not be sold by the carriers. Yes, there are some options with tablets where you can get cellular broadband service, but first and foremost, a tablet should be sold like a PC. I mean, a computer store or a consumer electronics store. Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics and the like. The carriers can also hop in and sell the 3G/4G versions of the tablets like they tried selling the 3G-enabled netbooks. So, taking the sales point away from the carrier stores is a good sign. Compare this with the phone where, at least in the US, it is extremely hard to sell a phone without subsidies. Nokia tried it long time ago and failed. Even Apple briefly tried the unsubsidized route but realized people are much more sensitive to upfront price than you would think. Given that the sale of the phone is tied so much to a carrier, it does not make much sense to conduct the sale away from the carrier. Apple is clearly an exception here, like in many business processes today.

Secondly, the price. If the rumors are true and the tablet is in fact around $199, it will be a huge win. A stock Android tablet with no “skins” installed, for $199 could be an interesting device. Kindle Fire has its ecosystem to rely upon but out of the box, it does limit which Android apps can run on the device. If a Nexus tablet can run all Android apps, and additionally support Amazon media consumption (either via Amazon apps like Kindle app or via the browser for Amazon Video), it becomes a superset of the Fire, for the same price as the Fire. Yes, the current Android tablets already do all of that, I understand. However, none of them have gained any traction yet, and if Google can get behind the marketing and sales, and create a Nexus phone-style clean and crisp user experience, I think users may get interested.

In fact, if this strategy does not work, you can presumably call it the end of the road for Android tablets.

Kindle Touch XSS JailBreak

The recently release Kindle Touch has been freed. Yifan Lu, freelance developer, has dug down and posted details on an exploit used to jailbreak Kindle OS 5.

Although it might look completely innocuous due to the e-ink display, the Kindle Touch is a relatively complex device. At the core of the device is an operating system built around HTML5 and Javascript. Unfortunately, the engineers at Amazon left some gaping holes in the system, allowing for a straight-forward XSS (cross site scripting) attack vector to be used.

By embedding HTML and JS calls into an MP3, Yifan Lu was able to hook into undocumented debug functions in order to execute code at root level. Not only did Amazon leave a function that allowed any process to be spawned as root, they also didn’t bother to sanitize inputs when reading the ID3 tag for display. With root access, a simple SSH package was created and pushed, providing unfettered access to the device.

Yifan Fu is encouraging other developers to start writing plugins for the device. Open formats such as ePub or Mobi can be supported as well. While apps and games are a possibility, the e-ink display will really limit the possibilities due to the slower refresh rate, lack of color as well as lack of multitouch.
It’s very possible that the Kindle Fire isn’t the only device that Amazon is selling at a loss, with attempts to make up revenues by users purchasing content. Amazon should be concerned as it may open the door for users to permanently store content past the expiration date.