Amazon has been posting dozens of job listings on its site over the past few weeks, most notably for positions that have nothing to do with the company's core retail business. "Hardware platform engineer"? "Advanced materials specialist"? "Product design manager"? These are not online retail positions: These are for the next-gen Kindle.
Frustratingly, they're all very vague. Just once, I'd like Amazon to put out a job listing for, I don't know, "LCD multitouch display engineer," with job requirements including, "2+ years experience with 10-inch, Samsung-made OLED displays." That kind of thing would really make my job easier. But Amazon is damnably clever, and steadfastly refuses to do my job for me, so let's do some analysis.
Lab126 is the division of Amazon responsible for the Kindle, so we can safely assume all of these listings are in some way Kindle-related. There are several signs here that Amazon is in a fairly late stage of development with a new Kindle--a "Software quality assurance engineer" and "Software development test engineer" both suggest that, as the New York Times says, "a product needs to be tested." An ad went up yesterday seeking a "Product design engineer," and the posting itself implies the work will be for accessories rather than a primary device.
In terms of clues as to what features might be coming, we're mostly in the dark. There are several positions open for those tinkering with wireless, but it's unclear if that's Wi-Fi or 3G (the Kindle line already has 3G), and honestly, that's not the most important piece of the puzzle here. What we really want to know has less to do with hardware than software--the interface and underlying OS will decide what kind of device the next Kindle is.
So we can't really tell much from these ads, but the fact that there are hardly any ads posted for designers of either hardware or software definitely implies that something in the Amazon labs is nearing completion. You can check out our wish-list of what we'd like the Kindle 3 to be over here.