I think I’ve discovered a secret. The source for a big rumor about Amazon’s next Kindle now appears to have changed their story!
It’s something I stumbled across while reviewing all the articles about what Amazon is planning next for the Kindle. Strong rumors suggest that Amazon is planning to release a new iPad-style tablet — but three weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal also reported two additional rumors. Citing people “familiar with Amazon’s thinking,” the Journal reported that Amazon also planned to release two new versions of the Kindle. One of these Kindles would have a touchscreen (like the newest version of the Nook that was recently released by Barnes and Noble). And the Journal also reported that by the end of September, Amazon would release an “improved and cheaper” version of the Kindle.
But strangely, the second claim is no longer appearing in the Journal’s article!
You can still see that original claim being quoted in articles around the web — even though the Journal has now removed it from its site. (For example, this article from PC Magazine quotes the Journal article as saying Amazon would release “an improved and cheaper adaptation of the current Kindle.”) Does this mean Amazon won’t be releasing a cheaper version of the Kindle along with the touch-screen version? My guess is the newspaper’s source later contacted them with a correction, or with updated information — and the Journal quietly edited their original piece to reflect the new information.
I could be wrong about the significance of this change, so consider it a new rumor about an old rumor. But an even more important question is when will Amazon release the next version of the Kindle. And I also have my own theory about that.
It’s easy to see if you check the dates for when Amazon’s released past upgrades to their Kindle. In November of 2007, Amazon released their first Kindle — and then released a newer version just 15 months later (the Kindle 2). That was in February of 2009, and nearly the same amount of time then elapsed before the release of the Kindle 3 in August of 2010. (The total time between the two Kindles was now 18 months.) Of course, Amazon released a slight upgrade in May of 2011 — the cheaper Kindle with Special Offers. But if Amazon sticks to their original pattern, they’ll release “the Kindle 4” within 15 to 18 months from the time that they released the last Kindle. That would mean we’d seen the Kindle 4 between November and February.
But of course, Amazon would want to release their new Kindle before the big pre-Christmas shopping season. (Once an analyst calculated that 47% of the people who owned a Kindle actually received it as a gift!) So to catch the big wave of shoppers, Amazon would almost certainly move up the release date of the Kindle 4 so it’s available for the big “Black Friday” sales that happen on the day after Thanksgiving. The only real question is whether they’d release the Kindle on that crucial November shopping day — or a few weeks earlier, so that shoppers could hear about it first in a big wave of pre-Thanksgiving publicity. And it turns out that my estimate is within eight weeks of what the Wall Street Journal predicted — that the next version of the Kindle would be released before the end of September.
But then again, the Journal also reported — and then apparently retracted — a claim that Amazon would release a new Kindle which was “improved and cheaper”.