Amazon held their annual devices event this week, and there was no Kindle. The company did announce a few new Fire TV sticks, Fire HD 10 tablets, soundbar and several Alexa products. Does this mean there won’t be a new Kindle this year? Last year, at the devices event, the Kindle Scribe was unveiled and put up for sale a couple of days later. Previous generation e-readers, such as the all-new Kindle, Paperwhite and Paperwhite Signature Edition, did not have an event; there was just a press release, and they were immediately available for sale. The average customer was hoping for a refresh of the Kindle Oasis, which is four years old at this point or a Scribe Mini. This might be the first year in a decade where no new Kindles will emerge.
The base model Kindle with the 300 PPI screen and front-lit display came out last year, and the Kindle Paperwhite with expanded storage options came out this year. Most of the current crop of Kindles is a few years old at this point. I feel that Amazon will not release a new Kindle this year or even next year. This is due to all of the staff firings in the Kindle division, and David Limp, who was in charge of hardware for the past 15 years, has left the company. Former CEO Jeff Bezos loved the Kindle; under his watch, new models came out of the time. Currently, nobody on the hardware team has the same passion for reading and Kindles as a whole.
The Kindle software team is together and has worked very hard all year long to change the programming language of the Kindle UI and home screen. Their goal was to provide a similar experience across the entire Kindle ecosystem, from e-readers to apps for Android or iOS. The Kindle Scribe also received nearly six updates this year, introducing new features and functionality. The Scribe is their first digital paper type of product, so they want to start a new product line well into the future; this was not a one-and-done device like the Kindle Voyage.
Amazon hardly ever announces new Kindles at their media events. Their goal is to announce products that sell Fire TV and Fire tablets sell more units than Kindles. Many people have Alexa speakers or other smart accessories, and Amazon uses events to announce new voices, AI initiatives and new functionality. When Apple holds similar events, they announce things that are perennial bestsellers; they don’t say anything about Apple Books or digital content, such as audiobooks, ebooks or digital magazines. Barnes and Noble doesn’t have media events for Nook e-readers, just a press release, which is on sale later. Kobo is the same way; they used to have media events for their e-readers but stopped doing it nearly a decade ago.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve 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.