I'm back home from the airport and I wanted to take a few minutes to put down my thoughts on the the Amazon event today. Amazon's press events are usually packed full of information and short on the wow factor, but that works for Amazon.
The thing is, Amazon doesn't have to do anything to wow you - just the basic facts of their new features, hardware, and prices is usually enough to take your breath away.
Once again Amazon has stolen the show. Do you know how this morning we all thought Kobo was being aggressive in developing new models at competitive prices? Yeah, it turns out that Kobo is still a step behind Amazon. Kobo's new cheap 5" ereader is undercut on features and price by the K4, which got a firmware update and a new lower price of $69 (ad supported, of course). And the new Kobo Glo is matched, detail for detail, by the Kindle Paperwhite - which also costs less.
And on the upside, we actually got to see the Kindle Paperwhite, which goes quite a ways toward convincing bloggers that it will live up to Amazon's claims. Kobo's new device still has not been seen in the wild, so right now we don't know if it still has the touchscreen problems that the Kobo Touch is still experiencing to this day. Seriously, there are still Kobo owners showing up and reporting the same issue.
Amazon has also managed to once again match B&N. Last year saw the Nook Touch release in May, and in September we saw Amazon matching the hardware specs and beating B&N on features and price. This year we saw the Nook Glow, and today Amazon beat it in specs, features, and price. That's a trouncing, no matter how you look at it.
And it's even worse for Sony. Last year Sony released a single model, a move which turned out to be a mistake once Amazon released 3 new models. The thing is, Amazon figured out last year that the ereader market could support specialized devices so long as the varied by ability, spec, and price. Sony could have beaten Amazon to the punch had they kept the 3 models they had in 2009 and in 2010. But instead Sony re-released what is effectively the same device as last year and saw everyone take a step ahead of them. All of the major ereader makers have a frontlight equipped ereader - except Sony. Two of the majors are even using the new HD E-ink screen.
And don't get me started on Pocketbook. I have their latest device in front of me, and it truly does not measure up. The Pocketbook 622 is the equivalent of the Kindle Touch, Nook Touch or Kobo Touch, only it costs a lot more and doesn't work as well as any of the others. Pocketbook is still somewhat strong in Europe and Asia, but they have no US presence because of that price issue (also poor marketing, but that's another story).
And Amazon reigns supreme for the second year in a row - or fifth, if you look at just the Kindle platform and not the hardware.