A long-predicted update to the Amazon Kindle, with the key feature being a significantly larger screen, is due as soon as this Wednesday. The hottest discussions center on how Amazon's Kindle 3 could help boost sales of newspapers.
Amazon is holding a press conference on Wednesday morning in New York City, but no exact details on what they plan to announce are available. A story by The New York Times writer Brad Stone, about "big screen" e-readers in general, says that, "Amazon will introduce a larger version of its Kindle wireless device tailored for displaying newspapers, magazines and perhaps textbooks." Stone then drives the point home by suggesting some very big name papers are on-board--including his own. A spokeswoman "could not comment on the company’s relationship with Amazon."
A big-screen Kindle 3 has been rumored for awhile--it's a natural progression. The initial Kindle had a 6-inch e-paper display, and pretty retro-looking features. The Kindle 2 updated some internals and tweaked the style a bit, but it kept the same screen size. Meanwhile, upcoming e-readers from the likes of Flepia, Plastic Logic and Fujitsu  offer much larger screens, color e-ink, and other features that make the Kindle seem old fashioned. For Amazon to make a bigger version that competes with these is just good business sense. And a larger screen offers a better reading experience, and is a more natural fit for magazine or newsprint-style content. As such, the Kindle 3 is being touted as a way to save the beleaguered newspaper business. The latest big city daily paper on its death bed is The Boston Globe , which may close as soon as this week.
But can the Kindle save the newspaper? It's impossible to tell, of course--that's a question of corporate will, high finance, pin-point timing and luck. The existing Kindle's demographic is made up of people who are more into newspapers than iPods , which is a good sign. And if there are some big-name newspapers involved at launch, their heritage could certainly push a Kindle 3 into better sales. The only trouble is that blogs can also be read on the Kindle, which means the battle for eyeballs could just be moving to a different screen.
The real issue here is going to be the price. The Kindle's expensive, and a larger screen Kindle 3 will be even more so. Forking over hundreds of dollars for an e-reader, and then having to pay a big chunk for an electronic paper subscription will put many customers off. A subsidized price for the reader, and a low-cost long-term subscription to the newspapers would be much more sustainable, but that's not likely to be the model at the outset.
[via NYTimes ]
Related: Amazon Kindle 3 Rumors Surface: Bigger, Better (Of Course) 
Related: Should The New York Times Ditch Paper, Distribute Kindle E-readers? 
Related: Kindle 2 Won't Change Your Life, but the Next One Will [review]