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November 22 – November 29, 2007 Edition
to NY Press NEW YORK, NY/11/19/07–Amazon today unveiled its new wireless handheld reader, named "Kindle," at a high-profile press conference in New York City. The device allows consumers to directly download and read books, magazines, and blogs from Amazon–for a fee.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demonstrated the device to the press at a conference in the fancy W Hotel in New York's Union Square. He said the Kindle is so easy to use that it disappears when you use it. He added that Amazon engineers and designers were trying to build a device that could "do things that the print book can't do."
Users can buy content from Amazon's "Whispernet" EVDO network, either for a per-download fee, or via a subscription. Bestselling books can be downloaded for a one-time fee of $9.99. Magazines and newspapers can be accessed via a monthly subscription, which varies depending on the publication.
The 10.3 lb reader, with 6-inch screen, comes with a headphone jack for audio books, as well as an e-mail address, and a small reading light attached to an adjustable arm (because the screen is not back lighted). The system sells for $399. The Kindle's built-in Wi-Fi connection directly accesses an Amazon e-book store where users can purchase new electronic books. But it will not have have some of the features of other BlackBerry-like devices, such as an address book. IN addition, the Kindle apparently will be capable of downloading daily digital versions of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon and other online retailers, as well as publishers, are betting the newly-reinvented e-book model, which failed to take off significantly in the late 1990s, will have a second life in the era of iPods and cell phones. With the success of digital music and video, analysts believe a new consumer market for e-books might emerge.
Amazon reportedly has signed a deal with Sprint for EVDO access, and is considering a deal with the W Hotel to provide devices for guests.
The company's major competition will come from Sony Reader. But Amazon's strengths lie in its huge repository of material and a long track record of selling content.
The Kindle has been in the works for more than a year. Industry sources say Amazon experienced a number of setbacks in getting the device to market, related both to hardware, and to getting publishers to participate. To gain a competitive advantage over other e-book readers and services already on the market, Amazon wanted to launch with the biggest e-book catalog of any available reader. Some analysts are expecting Amazon to take e-books in a direction they haven't been able to go before.
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