NEW YORK CITY -- At today's launch event here, Amazon unveiled the details of its Kindle DX. The rumors about the device proved true: It has a larger screen than the Kindle 2, and is aimed squarely at maximizing the newspaper and textbook market. However, that's not the only angle that Amazon head Jeff Bezos took today. By focusing on professional documents, too, Bezos positions Kindle DX as a business productivity tool, too.
The shift to a larger-screen Kindle makes sense. (See related: First Official Images of Kindle DX)
"The reason we still print so much is that traditional computer displays are a worse display device than paper. Kindle's paper-like display solves that problem. But most of the documents we print and read are 8.5-by-11-inch," Bezos notes. "The information on those documents is structured to be read [in that form]."
The larger Kindle DX, with its 9.7-inch E Ink display, has an integrated native PDF reader, something that has been missing from previous versions of the Kindle. And with that PDF reader, Amazon is suddenly able to target the professional market, too. Consider for a moment how prevalent PDF documents are in the business world: Financial documents, reports, marketing flyers, even PowerPoint presentations are published as PDFs. While one can view PDFs on a laptop, imagine reading documents in a more relaxed and flexible manner than a laptop can provide.
Of course, Kindle DX also opens wide educational opportunities for textbooks -- and, indeed, any highly-formatted book (such as a cookbook or a book with illustrations). And newspaper and magazine publishers have an opportunity to deliver more targeted and custom content that specifically takes advantage of this platform (instead of solely porting their existing print products to digital).
At $489, Kindle DX straddles a precarious position. It is an expensive proposition that will make consumers think hard about buying one (especially when highly functional mini-notebooks can be had for far less). But it is also a highly targeted device that can benefit from this broadening of its scope. The more multipurpose Kindle can become without detracting or minimizing its primary mission as an electronic reader, the better-positioned Kindle will be going forward.