The Kindle Wants To Be Free
Next week or next year, Amazon will start giving away its e-reader. Here’s why.
My record on predictions about Amazon is mixed at best. Two summers ago, I guessed that “before the holidays,” Amazon would cut the price of its cheapest Kindle e-reader to $99. My logic was solid—the cost of the Kindle’s parts kept declining rapidly, and Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, seems to be happiest of all when he’s slashing prices—but my timing was off. Amazon’s cheapest Kindle didn’t break the $100 barrier until last year, when the company lowered the price to $79.
Being wrong doesn’t deter me, though, so last month I reported on another vision in my Amazon crystal ball. The company was moving toward offering same-day shipping to people in large metro areas across the country, I said. But a few weeks after my piece, Tom Szkutak, Amazon’s chief financial officer, pooh-poohed the same-day shipping plan during a call with stock analysts. “We don’t really see a way to do same-day delivery on a broad scale economically,” he said. To me, that sounded like a bluff meant to throw off competitors. Amazon already offers same-day shipping on select items in 10 American cities, and shipping things faster has always been one of its primary corporate missions—that’s why it’s building dozens of new shipping centers across the country. I’m still sticking to my guns—I believe that over the next few years, Amazon will offer same-day service on more items in more places. But until I’m proven right, you can go ahead and call me wrong.
Keep that record in mind when you hear my next report from Amazon’s future. Next week, the company is holding a press event in Los Angeles to introduce some new stuff. Many observers believe that we’ll see upgrades to the firm’s Kindle lineup. These include, according to All Things D, a new Kindle Fire that has a camera and a better display and, per TechCrunch, a “front-lit” E Ink Kindle, meaning one that you can read at night. If that’s the case, I’ll be ecstatic. Read More