No Color Kindles for Years Might Mean No Kindles

By  |  Friday, May 29, 2009 at 11:55 am founder Jeff Bezos says that a Kindle e-reader with a color screen won’t show up any time soon:

The Amazon CEO also said a color version of the Kindle was not imminent.

“I know it’s multiple years. I don’t know how many years but it’s years,” he said.

“I’ve seen the color displays in the laboratory and I can assure you they’re not ready for prime time,” Bezos said.

Bezos’s stance sounds like it’s based on the assumption that the Kindle will continue to use a power-miserly E-Ink screen, or at least that Amazon is unwilling to consider the possibility of an LCD Kindle with a battery life measured in hours, not days. I persist in the stubborn notion that we live in a color world, and that the Kindle might have trouble competing with a cool, multipurpose tablet device in a similar form factor from, oh, say, Apple–even if the tablet had a traditional LCD display with traditional uninspiring battery life. I’m also intrigued by alternative display technologies such as that offered by Pixel Qi, which may bridge the gap between the benefits of E-Ink and LCD.

Maybe Bezos is being less than entirely forthcoming–hey, if Amazon is working on color right now, it’s not going to tell us–but if I were him, I’d be formulating plans to have some sort of color Kindle out in months, not years…


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. John Baxter Says:

    Amazon doesn’t have to sell Kindles forever–they have to sell eBooks (OK, e-material) long term. Meanwhile, the Kindle is an engine which is deeply involved in creating the space.

  2. Dave Zatz Says:

    If they’re going to ‘replace’ newspapers and magazines, they need color. If they’re going to be an ‘upgrade’ over a traditional book, they need lighting.

  3. tom b Says:

    I remember typewriter ribbons that came with two whole colors– black and red. It seemed pretty innovative at the time. Of course, people didn’t own full-color multipurpose devices, like computers– or iPhones– back then….

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  5. Gene Says:

    A color Kindle because we live in a color world. Give me a break! I am visually impaired, and I am tire of seeing the market to fluff features in products which have nothing to do with brain activity and everything to do with being constantly entertained. Blind people don’t have any of these things, and we do fine. However, at the same time, we are constantly struggling to access consumer products released today because sighted consumers must have everything with scrolling menus and interactive, which means not usable to the blind. DVD players are a shining example of this problem. When a person loads a DVD, what happens, a screen comes up with music, and the screen is always different from DVD to DVD. Furthure more, music is all the person hears, so at what point does a blind person push the play button? But wait, where is the play button?

    I can read my Kindle 2 with the font pushed all the way to the highest setting, plus I have the buttons. If Amazon releases the promised speech accessible firmware update to the Kindle to allow the totally blind to use the product, than it will be a good thing. But for how long? Based on what I read above, how long with it be before the Kindle is entirely touch screen based? So again, it is the same thing it is with almost all other products on the market, it will be designed to be entertaining for people with normal vision, but completely inaccessible to a totally blind person. I have enough vision to get by with the Kindle 2, but I don’t know another person in my position, I know there are some users out there like me, but I have never met them. Everyone else I know is totally blind and they are frustrated and angry because they understand what the potential of the ebook readers can be and what they allow a user to do now. I like so many other Kindle owners, love my Kindle 2, but at the smae time, I know there is nothing like it available for a totally blind person at this time.

    Blindl people keep track of what is going on and what is available in terms of technology, but there is very little of it that they can fully access or for that matter access at all. Blind and visually impaired people want to be a part of the world we all like in, but find ourselves sitting on the side lines most of the time not allowed to join in.