Larger Kindle Tablet in the Future?

PCWorld is reporting that it appears there will be an 8.9-inch Kindle tablet in addition to the soon-to-ship 7-inch Kindle Fire.

“According to [Digitimes], panel suppliers Chunghwa Picture Tubes and LG Display have begun to prepare production capacities for 8.9-inch displays. However, there may be even larger models — between 9.7-inch and 10.1-inch — coming at some stage in 2012, possibly as part of a third wave.”

This is interesting to me, as I had already decided to pass on the Kindle Fire, at least until a 3G or 4G model is available. If I could get mobile connectivity along with a larger screen, it would be just about impossible for me to resist, as long as the pricing is as competitive as the WiFi-only Kindle Fire.

Amazon Tablet Soon?

According to an article from PC World, Amazon is making an announcement of some sort this Wednesday, 2011-09-28. They speculate this may be the introduction of Amazon’s much-anticipated tablet computer.

In a possibly related forum post, it is postulated that Amazon Prime membership may soon include some sort of e-book lending service, along with the already available free movie and video streaming for Prime members.

It would therefore appear that Amazon may be able to give some interesting competition to Apple and other tablet makers by way of Amazon’s name recognition, along with movie, music, and e-book content already in place for the new device. I for one will be very interested to see what the price points will be.

E-Readers vs. Tablets = Apples vs. Oranges

I was reading a web article titled “E-reader ownership doubles in six months”, which spends a goodly amount of words and diagrams comparing e-reader ownership versus tablet computer ownership. This got me thinking about many discussions (and arguments) I’ve seen about the relative merits of each, and whether or not tablet devices would eventually push dedicated e-readers to extinction.

The old saw of comparing “apples to oranges” comes to mind whenever I see such discussions. The more I thought about that today, the more it seemed to me that this is one of the most appropriate situations for that analogy.

  • Apples and oranges are both fruits. E-readers and tablets are both hand-held computers.
  • Apples are very popular for pies, but I don’t recall ever seeing Orange Pie on a menu, though I’m sure there someone makes them. Tablets are very useful for surfing the web, but while you can with at least some e-readers, they are generally not so useful for that.
  • Oranges help prevent scurvy, apples do not. Current e-ink screen e-readers let you read comfortably in most ambient lighting including sunlight, while tablets with their back-lit screens do not.
  • Apples can be stored for a fairly long time and still be edible, oranges not so much. Okay, I’m not sure how that relates to e-readers and tablets, but you get the point.

What I’m trying to get at here is that while there is an overlap in what e-readers and tablets can do, the idea of one supplanting the other is a bit like saying apples will take over from oranges — at least with the current levels of technology and horticulture. I suppose it’s entirely possible one fruit will grab the lion’s share of the market if some new health study comes out showing that one or the other cures cancer, or a new orange hybrid makes it especially good for making pies; but I think anyone who at this time can categorically claim to know that one portable device will be pushed out by the other is, at best, making a lucky guess.

Of course, that won’t stop me from guessing.

In the long term — where in this business “long term” may be less than a decade — I would not be surprised if some sort of general purpose device along the lines of tablets does take over the role of both dedicated e-reader and tablet computer. This would be the result of tablets evolving into both lighter weight and less expensive devices, possibly able to be folded in some way so as to take less room in purses or pockets while being able to display on a reasonably large screen when in use. Then again, in a long enough term, they may just communicate with an implant direct to the vision and sound centers of our brains. (Yes, I read a lot of science fiction.)

It will be interesting to see how things evolve, but for the short term (years you can count on one hand), I think there will continue to be a market for each. But then I love apples and am only so-so about oranges, so what do I know?