We've had cola wars, burger wars, even world wars, but those are so 20th century -- get ready for the e-reader war. Amazon fired the latest salvo, announcing a new Kindle that costs $139.
The popular electronic book reader has come under pressure from Apple's even more popular iPad, which allows people to read books in addition to receiving a myriad of other computer tools. But instead of adding functions to the Kindle, Amazon is just lowering the price.
"At $139, you're going to have multiple Kindles, not just one," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said.
Yet the new Kindle is wi-fi only, meaning you have to connect to a wi-fi network to download a book, rather than the more expensive Kindles which connect to a cell phone network.
Amazon is also introducing a new Kindle 2, which will sell for $189 and include "go-anywhere" 3G wireless. Both new Kindles are smaller and lighter, with higher contrast screens.
Many analysts were hoping Amazon would price a Kindle at $99. That is often seen as the price point that drives gadget impulse purchases.
Still, Bezos sees the price as relatively cheap. “At $139, if you’re going to read by the pool, some people might spend more than that on a swimsuit and sunglasses."
Bezos said he doesn't really see the iPad as competition for the Kindle.
“My first thought when I saw the iPad is that it will be great for our mobile commerce business — the more internet-connected devices the better, from Amazon’s point of view.” But if people thought the iPad would be a challenger to Kindle’s e-reading throne, “it hasn’t happened that way,” says Bezos. He tried reading a bit on an iPad but didn’t get far because “if I have to read a long document on an LCD display, the first thing I do is print it out.”
Users find the Kindle's black-and-white screen easier on the eyes to read than the color iPad, and there is less glare in the bright sun.
The new Kindles, which will ship Aug. 27, have the same six-inch reading area as earlier Kindles but weigh about 15% less and are 21% smaller. The Kindles have twice the storage, up to 3,500 books.