Amazon Rumor Roundup: Faster And Cheaper Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch With Better Screen And Maybe A Phone

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Amazon is a company that just cannot stop leaking information about its new products. Before the live coverage of Amazon’s press conference on TechCrunch at 10:30 in Santa Monica, it is now a good time to write down what we know about Amazon’s lineup.

New Kindle devices are highly expected and the major focus of the conference should be on hardware. The Nexus 7 has proven to be a beautifully-designed cheap 7-inch tablet and an update to the Kindle Fire would be a welcomed announcement. The Kindle Touch has lost its edge in the e-reader landscape with the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. Moreover the Pearl E Ink screen has not been updated since 2010. Lastly, there are some rumors that Amazon might finally be ready to release a Kindle-branded phone.

Kindle Fire

Even though Amazon claims that the Kindle Fire is now sold out, what it really means is that Amazon stopped production of the current Kindle Fire — a device cannot be sold out because it is the company that decides to stop production. Seeing how Amazon is desperate for attention, a new Kindle Fire is therefore very likely.

Some pictures of the device leaked. It still sports a 7-inch display with a narrower matte bezel and maybe a front-facing camera on some models. Amazon could choose to only offer the camera on the higher-end model to keep the entry price very low.

A 10-inch device could be introduced as well but we are much less confident about this rumor as the price has always been an important selling point for Amazon over the years. And of course it would put that purported tablet in direct confrontation with the iPad.

Talking about prices, in order to keep its edge in the race to the bottom, Amazon may adopt a similar strategy as its ereader strategy. In other words, Amazon may lower the price by showing ads — also known as special offers — when you turn on the device. A $149 device sure looks attractive when it is just a click away to add to your virtual cart.

Engadget received some logs that could indicate that the new Kindle Fire operating system will be based on Android 4.0.3 instead of 2.2 — a much needed improvement for third-party developers and even users. A bump in specs would be logical as well, with for example an improved processor and a screen with a better resolution.

And then there is the Firedock. Amazon trademarked the brand, probably for an accessory. Will it be unveiled today?

Kindle Touch

While we are not sure about the entry-level Kindle, the Kindle Touch is likely to receive an update. It is currently unavailable on Amazon.com. It did not receive the same PR treatment as the Kindle Fire, but the Kindle Touch is in need of an update as well.

Yesterday, the new Kindle Touch was teased by Amazon in an ad. The home button is gone and the bezel is now black.

Competitors such as the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight or the just-announced Kobo Glo have a screen that glows in the dark. Contrarily to what it looks like, those devices are front-lit and not backlit. It uses small LEDs in the bezel to project light on a transparent film. The Kindle Touch should probably use the same technology due to the characteristics of E Ink screens.

Another improvement would be a new E Ink screen. The current Pearl screen has been used in Kindle e-readers since 2010. The company E Ink stated that a generation is supposed to last two years. Screen contrast between the text and the background should be improved as well as screen refresh rate for faster page turns — it depends on the processor too. But the more important improvement would be a bump in resolution. The Kindle has had the same 800×600 resolution since 2007. The Kobo Glo has a 1024×768 six-inch screen. Maybe it will be the same resolution for the Kindle Touch, maybe not.

Kindle smartphone?

Over the past few days, some rumors of a Kindle-branded smartphone have emerged. It is probably the next logical step for Amazon after hyping up its App Store so much. Bloomberg has come to that conclusion after hearing rumors from Foxconn and the hire of Matt Gordon, a specialist in patent protection to avoid lawsuits.

It is unclear whether the smartphone will be unveiled today. The rumors come very late. Moreover, specs and design remain unknown. It would be an interesting turn for Amazon, even if it is only released in a few weeks. With its incredible retail presence thanks to the ubiquitous Amazon.com, the device could sell well and prove to be yet another challenger in the smartphone landscape.