While Kobo and Barnes and Noble were basking in the spotlight of the tech media world last week after introducing a pair of slick-looking and compact new touchscreen e-readers (the Kobo eReader Touch and Nook Simple Touch Reader), the industry leader was obviously looking for something to announce in order to steal some of the competitions' thunder. We didn't receive confirmation of the long speculated Amazon tablet. What we did get was another ad-supported version of an existing Kindle e-reader.
Back in April, it was the Kindle With Special Offers version of the Kindle Wi-Fi, discounted from $139 to $114. In exchange for saving 25 bucks on the purchase price of a stock Kindle Wi-Fi, buyers agreed to put up with looking at advertiser sponsored screen savers on their device and having Amazon send the occasional "special offer" directly to their Kindle. For many people, this was a reasonable trade-off and it seems that uptake has been successful enough for Amazon to introduce a Special Offers edition of the more expensive Kindle 3G. The tradeoffs are the same (although with the 3G device not having to rely on a user manually connecting to a Wi-Fi network, Amazon presumably has ability to more consistently send out those special offers), and so is the $25 discount. The Kindle 3G with Special offers retails at $164, compared to $189 for the standard version.
Is 25 bucks off a nearly $200 device sufficient incentive to convince would-be e-book readers to join the digital age? Is it enough to distract the public from those svelte new Kobo and Barnes and Noble e-readers? I'd say this announcement is likely to fall a tad short in both departments, but it's better than nothing. What about a Kindle DX With Special Offers? When can we expect to see advertising make the leap to the largest Kindle? I'm not a gambling man, but if I were, I'd be thinking the PR folks at Amazon.com are holding on to this one in case Sony happens to drop some shiny new e-readers before the Amazon tablets are ready for unveiling. Stay tuned.