Fast Company

Amazon's Kindle 2 E-Reader to Debut on February 9

Update: The rumor that Amazon's successor to the Kindle e-reader is arriving on February 9th has been confirmed.

In October, BoyGeniusReport.com nabbed the first images of the new device, and now BGR is running with the suggestion that Feb. 9th Amazon press conference is about the Kindle 2. The source of their info is a post on Crave, where writer David Carnoy announced he's been invited to "an important Amazon.com press conference" in a location "that relates to books."

Amazon is famously tight-lipped about how successful the Kindle is--to the point of not revealing how many of the devices have been sold. It's clearly very successful, and even prompted tech giant Sony to come up with a competitor in the Reader, which was updated late last year with a new device carrying an improved touchscreen.

But the Kindle 2 rumor makes a lot of sense.

First, Amazon's own Kindle page is reporting that the Kindle is sold out. Buyers are told they'll have to wait a few months for delivery--a suspicious slip in supply for such a successful device from a company that knows how to handle a supply chain.

Second, the Kindle hasn't been updated at all since it came out in November 2007. That's a long time in the gadget world, giving Amazon R&D time to devise a successor.

Third, a storm of internet excitement built up last year when the previously unheard-of Plastic Logic announced its e-reader Kindle competitor. The device seemed to be thinner--at just 7mm--and more high-tech than the Kindle, having a larger touchscreen and the ability to annotate all sorts of documents and texts. A few leaked bits of info have recently confirmed that while the device was originally due soon, it's since been delayed until late 2009 or 2010.

And now there's been a confirmation that Amazon boss Jeff Bezos will be at the February 9 event. The fact that he's attending underlines that it really is something "important," particularly since he was also present at the Kindle's launch event.

BGR's leaked photos show the device has a more modern, rounded, and cleaner look with an updated keyboard that shuns the Kindle 1's split QWERTY keyboard design. And over at the New York Times Bits Blog there's info from E-Ink, which makes the screen for the Kindle, that the new device may use seriously-improved screen driver technology, with better responsiveness and faster updates.

It all adds up.

Update: Brad Stone at Bits Blog is convinced about the February 9th date, and has added some detail on the improvements to the technology inside the Kindle 2.

It'll use E-Ink and Epsons "Broadsheet" chips to improve the display with a faster refresh time--the same chip that's already used by Sony's updated Reader. E-Ink's chief exec Russell J. Wilcox, who met Brad some weeks ago, describes the benefits thus: "If you are reading a book, you are just going to read page by page and it might not make that much of a difference. But if you want to do anything else with your device, zooming in, look up words, whatever, you really appreciate the speed. It’s a major change."

Brad also points out that the Kindle ordering page on Amazon had been reading "11 to 13 weeks" as a delivery time, but now says "four to six weeks" instead. That's pretty consistent with some new hardware coming online shortly after the Amazon press conference.

[via BGR, Crave]

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