The speculation-o-meter is running wild ahead of Amazon's roll-out of its large-screen Kindle Wednesday, but there are more than a few loose-ends to tie up.
First, the latest. Engadget reports that the latest Kindle will have a 9.7-inch display. The site also noted that the New York Times will drop its subscription from $13.99 to $9.95 (which really only matches the Wall Street Journal's price).
Meanwhile, the Journal reports that students at Case Western University will test out the new Kindle. Case Western president Lev Gonick will join Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on the stage Wednesday. Five other universities will give the new Kindle a trial run. As a bonus, there's a better browser on the new Kindle.
So what does it all mean?
- As noted yesterday, the new Kindle is all about the textbook market. Given the universities on board, you can envision institutions buying Kindles in bulk and dishing them off to students at a discount. Look for universities to become a real sales channel for Amazon.
- What's the price? One of the knocks against the Kindle is price. The Kindle will run you $359, a sum that many folks say is too expensive. Will a larger Kindle be the same price, more or cheaper than the smaller one? Don't be surprised if the larger Kindle holds the line on price. Why?
- There could be Wi-Fi on the large Kindle. The smaller Kindle uses Sprint to fuel its wireless network. And for travelers that's a nice move because you're not always near a Wi-Fi hotspot. But guess what? Every student is near a hotspot. Universities have Internet access everywhere. Whispernet would be redundant on a campus---especially for textbooks. One way Amazon can keep costs down is to offer a Wi-Fi version.
- And then there are the market implications. Jason Perlow reckons that Amazon is trying to build a moat around its Kindle business. Jason rants on how Amazon is trying to close off the e-book market. My reply: Duh! Of course Amazon is trying to wall off its core business. Welcome to the club. Apple does it too. In fact, every company tries some sort of halo effect.
- Speaking of Apple, Amazon does seem to be front-running a potential iTablet. The Kindle, which has a juiced up browser and a large screen, certainly is starting to look like a tablet that could compete with Apple gear and potentially netbooks. The netbook concept might be a stretch---and Bezos will stick to the Kindle is a big book line---but you have to wonder about Amazon's master plan here.