In preparation for my workshop on eReaders next week I did a blog post describing the Kindle Family. I was pretty dissatisfied with it because it took a lot of words to describe the many Kindle options currently available. To clarify things, I decided to make a graphic. In the graphic I try to hit the historical highlights of Kindle development in addition to clarifying the Kindle models, with options—especially pricing—but don’t depend on the scale of the graphic for complete historical accuracy. I leaned heavily on the Wikipedia article on the Kindle for dates, but wasn’t able to make a to-scale historical chart that would conveniently fit in this blog post, but its close. As Professor Emmett Brown says of the scale model of Hill Valley, I apologize for the crudeness of the model.
I follow the graphic with a few speculations on the future of the Kindle.
It is still a bit confusing, but not quite so much. The DX is still available, of course, but the end of its development line occurred before the introduction of the 4th generation Kindles and the Kindle Fire. Expect Amazon to simplify these hardware choices in the next generation. I am guessing, but I would expect to see the DX either disappear or morph into a large-screen (as in iPad sized) version. The original idea behind the larger format DX was to display large format works like text books and newspapers more naturally. Software vendors always get into trouble, however, when they regard what is as natural. The textbook will be changing based on what software can do, not on its traditional layout. The iPad version of texts currently available will be the model.
Also expect Amazon to simplify the basic eReader choices. There are 3 eInk displays currently in the Kindle family. I’m guessing again, but I would expect them to consolidate into one. My expectation is that the physical keyboard will disappear and the next Kindle will be an amalgam of the current basic Kindle, with a small number of hardware buttons (some people or wedded to their buttons like a barnacle to a rock) and the Touch, with onscreen qwerty keyboard. Yesterday Barnes & Noble announced a new Nook simple touch, witn built-in lighting (for reading at night) so don’t expect Amazon to be too far behind.
With respect to the Fire, why mess with what is already great. Interface improvements will occur, but expect it to continue.
If I’m right, expect two Kindles in the next iteration, one with a 6″ eInk display combining the best of buttons and touch screen models, and an Android-based tablet that will be the next version of the Fire. If Amazon thinks it makes sense to pursue the large-screen option, competing directly with the iPad, then I would also expect an Android-based successor to the DX.
I could easily be wrong, but this seems to be the way things are trending.