E-readers decline - is lack of features the problem? Should Amazon worry?

Yesterday I posted about the reported "e-reader death", discussing whether tablets are winning the race against e-readers. Today I gave it some more thought, and it seems to me now that one of the "problems" with e-reader sales is the lack of new features. But I'm not sure if that's really a problem...

Kindle family (K3, K4, KT) photo

Amazon launched the K3 (or Kindle Keyboard as it is now called) back in July 2010 - a year and a half ago. The new Kindle Touch and K4 (or Kindle 2011) was launched in October 2011. When you consider it, what are the differences between the K3 and the K4 or Kindle Touch? The new devices are a bit smaller (but it's not really significant I think), a bit faster, and they cost less. The Kindle Touch adds the touch capability of course.

I think the interesting question is - "is this enough to upgrade?" If you already have a Kindle Keyboard, why should you upgrade to a new Kindle? As someone who owns several Kindle devices (in fact I have the K2, K3, K4, Kindle Touch and the Fire) - I don't really see any advantages in the new Kindles. It's got the same 6" Pearl E Ink display, the same file format support and the same connectivity options. I guess what people and analysts are missing is that the fact that Amazon offers no compelling reasons to upgrade your Kindle.

This raises two interesting questions (yes, more questions). The first one is "should Amazon care?" I think that as long as you keep buying books (or active content software) and as long as Amazon does not make money on Kindle sales (or even lose a bit) - this situation is actually quite good for the company. Why make people upgrade? The only reason will be real competition. The current crop of e-readers are all basically the same. This makes people happy (their current device is still relevant) and perhaps they can use the money to buy books instead of new hardware. This is rather good for the environment, too (but rather bad for Amazon suppliers, such as E Ink).

The second question - "what would make people upgrade their e-readers?". Lowering the price of the Kindle will not make people upgrade. I guess people will want a really significant feature update: more book formats (perhaps opening the Kindle up for ePub books, which Amazon is not going to do), a better display (such as a color one), a real speed, battery life, size or weight boost. Perhaps Amazon is doing the smart move waiting for competition before they rush in to release a real updated reader. Meanwhile they are bringing more content, marketing the Kindle in more countries and expanding the ecosystem. These are wise moves...

2 post

Your post sounds appologtic, as if someone from Amazon strong armed you.

I didn't mean it to sound

I didn't mean it to sound apologetic... I do love my e-readers and I hope these devices won't disappear...

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