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Amazon’s Press Conference: What Can We Expect?

Amazon.co.ukSales figures. A detailed breakdown of sales of devices by country, including market share, plus a deep look into the data they hold for each customer, as well as how their recommendation system works. CEO Jeff Bezos is likely to unveil their print-to-ebook sales ratio, alongside comparative figures of how each version of Kindle has sold over a specific date range. He will announce the collaborative work he is doing with publishers and retailers to move toward an aggregated eBook sales chart similar to Neilsen’s Bookscan, and his plans to be far more transparent with the press in the future regarding profitability and strategy.

HA! Ok, enough of that.

As we all know, Amazon have a press conference this Thursday, September 6th, where some have postured they will release two new 7-inch devices similar to the Kindle Fire. Last week they announced they have ‘sold out‘ of Kindle Fire’s – making a clear statement that they didn’t plan to release any more of this model and adding weight to the idea of new movement in the tablet market this week.

Cnet have reported the devices planned for release are upgraded versions of the existing Fire, but in two difference sizes: a 7-inch, and a 10-inch to ‘compete with the Apple iPad’. Compete with the iPad? Others have tried. If it were me, I’d be focussing less on trying to get the edge on the already crowded tablet market (where they’ve been outclassed already by both Apple in the 10-inch, and Google in the 7-inch) and instead turn my sights to the threat slightly closer to home.

The Barnes & Noble Nook is coming to the UK this November, in the Simple Touch and Simple Touch with backlight. It has decent retailer backing, and the backlight is a feature Amazon are yet to offer on any of their e-Ink products. Despite a contingent who believe the tablet is killing the eReader, I don’t think we should discount the value of getting e-Ink technology right just yet. It’s been a very solid area for Amazon, and it’d be a surprise to me if they decided to leave it to the Nook and Kobo to battle out this Christmas.

On those grounds, I would expect a backlit Kindle, similar to the Nook. But, as Amazon are unlikely to simply copy the competition when it comes to eReaders, I’d also like to see a colour e-ink screen. Combining these two features, and capitalising on the acquisitions Amazon publishing made late last year of Marshall Cavendish plus their exclusive deal with DC Comics, puts them in pretty good stead to aim for a younger market this Christmas.

If Amazon don’t release an upgraded eInk reader, we may see a Nook-dominated Christmas in the UK. And unless Amazon can compete with Google on price (they obviously won’t be offering something of the new iPad’s calibre because, let’s face it, nothing can touch Apple at the moment) they may loose out in the tablet stakes. It’s great to see a really diverse device market out there are the moment, with hardware developers pushing one another to innovate in new areas. With all the competition, Amazon can’t do minor upgrades and expect an applause.

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Felice Howden

Felice Howden had opinions before she knew what the word 'opinion' meant. She wrote for the publishing and ideas blog Socratic Ignorance Is Bliss, and has had short stories published around the place. She graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2008 with a degree in English and Philosophy, and now spends her time typing code and hatching brain eggs for the future of publishing in a major publishing house.

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