Throughout the past few years, the Kindle team has been in shambles. Greg Zehr, who left in late 2022, is credited with the invention of the Kindle. He is also considered the de facto founder of Lab126, a secretive hardware group that created other gadgets such as the Echo range of speakers. He spent his entire 18-year Amazon career at the hardware development unit. In early 2023, Dave Limp, Amazon’s hardware chief, announced that he would resign. The key executive at the tech giant would retire after a stint of more than 13 years. This would be a significant exit since Andy Jassy took over the company in 2021. Limp oversees the development of Amazon’s consumer devices like Fire TV, Echo, Kindle, and the Alexa voice assistant.
The Amazon devices division in 2023 currently employs 12,000 people. These staff are responsible for the Alexa, Kindle, Fire TV, Ring, Echo, Amazon Earbuds and Fire Tablet devices. All of these products are unprofitable and lose $5 billion annually. Most of these devices are loss leaders because Amazon typically subsidizes the cost to get more market share and sell digital content. The Amazon devices division is now an assortment of robot dogs, carbon monoxide detectors, soundbars, and new AI enhancements. Sources Lab126 have told Good e-Reader that the years of losses and shifting strategies have contributed to lowered morale.
I don’t think any executives at Amazon are champions of the Kindle anymore. Jeff Bezos was really into reading, spearheaded the foray into e-readers’ ebooks, and facilitated the purchase of Audible for audiobooks. When he left the company, within a few years, all of the other critical executives left for greener pastures or retried.
This puts the Kindle in a difficult position. On one hand, it is one of the few devices where you can buy audiobooks and ebooks right on it. The Kindle app for Android and iOS cannot purchase digital content because Amazon doesn’t want to cut the revenue to Apple or Google. The only other hardware that allows you to buy content is the Amazon Fire tablet. If users want a frictionless experience, Amazon-branded hardware is the only option.
On the other hand, I would not bet that Amazon will take any new chances with the Kindle, so in 2024, do not expect any drastic redesigns or new technologies. Amazon has always been a reactionary company; they never take risks with Kindle; they only implement new features if everyone else has. Do not expect a colour Kindle; use E INK Kaleido 3. The best we can hope for is the Carta 1300, which is so new only one device on the market has it. It increases the refresh rate and page-turn speed and enhances overall performance by 30% compared to Carta 1200. The new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 11th Generation uses E INK Carta 1200.
Will Amazon release a new e-reader in 2024? I don’t expect anything new. The base model Kindle Basic came out in 2022, it included a 300 PPI display and a new lighting system. The 111th Generation Kindle Paperwhite came out in 2021, and at the same time the Signature Edition was also released. In 2022, Paperwhite upgraded its storage from 8 GB to 16 GB. At the end of 2022, Amazon released the Kindle Scribe, which allows users to take notes, freehand draw and edit Kindle Books. It is also a very acceptable PDF reader and editor. Amazon released this product due to the success of the Remarkable, and to a lesser extent, the Kobo Elipsa and Onyx Boox products.
Why do I think Amazon won’t release new Kindle e-readers? There isn’t anything drastically new in the E INK world to warrant it. There is little innovation from E INK because they don’t have any competition. There isn’t any reason to upgrade the Kindle. What would they do anyway to increase the storage? Big whoop. Refresh the Oasis or Voyage? These are dead products. A Kindle Scribe Mini? Yeah right. Amazon is only concerned these days with the Fire Tablets, refreshing them every year, because you can do so much more with them, such as watch Prime Video, or watch Football games, or listen to Prime Music.
Michael Kozlowski is the editor-in-chief at Good e-Reader and has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past fifteen years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.