If you want to know if Amazon's new Kindles are coming out—and what they'll be—don't listen to analysts or supply chains or, yes, blogs. One trip to Amazon today will tell you nearly everything you need to know about when, and what, Amazon's about to unleash on the world.
Out With the Old
When bargain hounds opened their Amazon Deal of the Day email this morning, they were met with a bargain basement Kindle DX. Amazon's black sheep 10-inch e-ink tablet is $110 off today, a 29% discount. It's the kind of deal you offer when you want to clear out inventory, fast.
The DX isn't competitive in an iPad world. It never has been. But you know what would be? A 10-inch Kindle Fire. You know, like the one that's been rumored for months.
Consider the context: The DX has long been neglected, ignored even, by Amazon. And rightly so. First introduced in 2009, the DX has gotten a single, largely meaningless update since. It's received no promotional support, despite Amazon's obviously healthy marketing budget. Any relevance it had was severely hampered by the introduction of the iPad, and was obliterated when Apple decided to get into the textbook business.
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So clearly Amazon's trying to unload a product it doesn't want to support any more. In fact, it hasn't supported the DX in two years. So why clear them out now? Because all those 10-inch Kindle DX boxes are taking up valuable shelf space, especially when there are 10-inch LCD models coming in to replace it.
And it's not just the DX. Every single Lightning Deal today is Kindle-related: cases, speaker docks, sleeves. Sixteen deals in all, a waterfall of discounts. It's a fire sale, if you'll pardon the pun. All of those accessories will presumably still be compatible with an updated 7-inch Kindle Fire, sure. But Amazon won't need nearly as many of them if its market is split between two sizes.
A Brighter Future
If it were just the DX and the accessory bonanza, you could chalk it all up to (still a very compelling) coincidence. But it's not.
Want to buy a Kindle Touch today? Sorry, you're out of luck. There's an 8-9 day shipping wait on the model with special offers, and you can only get the $140 ad-free version through third party vendors. A Kindle Touch 3G, then? Sorry, that's currently unavailable.
Amazon's done making the previous generation of Kindle Touch. Plain and simple. Those assembly lines stopped rolling some time ago. Except unlike the Kindle DX there's still enough Kindle Touch demand to let them die off naturally.
As they should! Amazon's been such a pioneer in the ereader space that it's unusual to think of it as behind the curve, but that's exactly the position it's been in ever since the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight cropped up five months ago. Nearly half a year is a very, very long time for Amazon to cede the front-lit ereader space. Too long, especially considering rumors of a front-lit Kindle Touch started bubbling up in May.
Remember: This is how Amazon—and any other company with supply chain efficiencies dialed down to a science—releases new products. Kindle 2 showed up as sold out the morning of July 28, 2010. That same afternoon, Amazon introduced Kindle 3 to the world.
There's zero chance Amazon outs its most heavily anticipated product in a year on a summer Friday. But there's also no way it stays out of stock of some of its most popular products for more than a few days. Which means we're going to see new Kindles of every stripe next week.
Timing Is Everything
And even if all the signs weren't pointing to a massive Kindle refresh soon, the timing would still make sense. Wait much longer, and all your press attention gets swallowed up by September's iPhone Jamboree.
But more importantly, remember who the Kindle and Kindle Fire are ideal tools for: students. Specifically, college kids who may not have enough disposable income for an iPad but want to put as many textbooks (or, for English majors, free public domain Emily Bronte ebooks) on a tablet or ereader as possible to save backpack space and beer money. Fall semester, depending on where you go, starts late August or early September. And the Kindles you'll be bringing back to school with you won't be last year's models.
A DX giveaway putting that mammoth out to pasture. Some sold-out Kindle Touches making way for a much-needed technological catch-up. The new Kindles are coming next week; all of them will be front-lit, and one of them will be a bigger Kindle Fire. Just remember that didn't hear it from some analyst. Amazon as good as told you itself.
Update: Frankthepirate notes in the discussions below that he last week received an offer for "40% off select Kindles and Kindle accessories with my Amazon Visa card," another sure sign that Amazon's trying to clear out as much inventory as possible short of actually giving it away.