Amazon intros next generation Kindle

Online retailer Amazon is seeking to shake up the wireless consumer electronics and publishing spaces with a revamped version of its Kindle electronic book.

The Kindle DX is a big- screen addition to the family, better equipped for delivering larger documents such as textbooks and newspapers. The unit has a 9.7″ screen, which Amazon claims enables it to read like real paper, using 16 shades of grey. The device also boasts an accelerometer which means the display automatically shifts from portrait to landscape when tilted.

The first Kindle electronic book device hit the market in November 2007, selling out its first run in days despite a hefty price of US$399, which has since dropped to $359. The new DX version retails for $489.

But it’s the whole ‘subscription free’ model, which is disruptive and looks like a winner for wireless-enabled consumer electronics. Kindle works right out of the box and the user only pays for what they use, because Amazon rolls the cost of the delivery in with the cost of the product. Essentially, the content provider pays the carrier – in this case Sprint Nextel’s 1x EV-DO network – the transfer costs.

This is more like a ‘smart pipe’ model, where Sprint connects the end user with the content he or she wants, and takes cut of the revenue stream, as well as retaining control over the value chain. In this sense, Amazon has something of a stranglehold on the device and the material that it can download. A user can buy a new Kindle only through Amazon, and all Kindle ebooks are downloaded via Amazon in its proprietary DRM format, which prevents them from being transferred to another device or computer, although the DX does have support for PDFs. Not only that, Kindle users must abide by Amazon’s user agreement, which does not permit them to electronically share downloaded reading material.

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