As you've probably heard by now, Amazon just took the wraps off two new Kindle models: the Kindle Wi-Fi and Kindle Free 3G+Wi-Fi.
Let's set aside for a moment the curious naming conventions at work here. (Yo, Amazon: was something wrong with "Kindle 3" and "Kindle 3 Wi-Fi Edition"? What's with all the vague "All-New
Kindle" and "Latest Generation" monikers?) The big news is price, at least for the Wi-Fi model: $139.
When the Kindle debuted nearly three years ago, I was excited by the hardware (I'm an e-book fan from way back) but disappointed by the $399 price tag. That didn't stop people from snapping them up, of course--you may recall that the first batch sold out in a matter of hours, and it was nearly six months until Amazon replenished its stock.
Still, as a card-carrying cheapskate, I could not and would not pay that much for a dedicated e-book reader. In my mind, the magic price point was $99. I suspected it would come, and I'm delighted to see we're almost there.
I'm also glad Amazon finally realized that built-in 3G is overkill in a device like the Kindle. Between homes, offices, Starbucks stores, and airports, Wi-Fi hot spots are just about everywhere. Downloading the occasional book doesn't carry the same urgency as, say, checking e-mail or updating Twitter, so why pay extra for 3G? (You still can, of course: the "Free 3G+Wi-Fi" model sells for $189.)
If I didn't already own an iPad and iPhone (I still read most of my e-books on the latter, though more and more I'm starting to crave a larger screen), I'd definitely grab the Kindle Wi-Fi for $139. It's not $99, but it's close enough.
What about you? Is this close enough to your "magic price point" as well? Are you bummed you missed out on the $109.99 refurbished Kindle 2 from a couple weeks ago? (Guess we know the driving force behind that deal.)
More to the point, do you think Kindles and other dedicated e-book readers can survive the current and coming
tablet onslaught? As long as people continue to read, I honestly don't care.