The Kindles split personality

Cnet reports that Jeff Bezos has split Amazon's Kindle business into two distinct strands: a hardware team that "has the job of making the most remark

Cnet reports that Jeff Bezos has split Amazon's Kindle business into two distinct strands: a hardware team that "has the job of making the most remarkable purpose-built reading device in the world" and a store that wants to find its way on to "other mobile devices and other computing devices."

 

 

I've spent a week with the new, big screen Kindle DX now and it's certainly the most luxurious ebook reading experience on the market, with a sharp, generous screen, good build quality and great battery life. But it's also the price ($490, £300) of a set of decent leather-bound encyclopaedias and is available only in the US.

For Kindle to truly become the iPod/iTunes of literature, Bezos needs to gather readers but fast. Google is hot on his heels with its Book Search project and rival large screen e-book readers are only a matter of time.

That gives Amazon a narrow window in which to corner the digital book market with a reader that will genuinely show all ebooks (the DX is a step forward but needs to play more nicely with PDFs and DRM-ed files from Mobipocket), and a store that's available on a much wider variety of devices than just Kindles and iPhones, worldwide.

It's a tall order. The Kindle's trademark free Whispersynch wireless link is a big part of its appeal, and yet could prove tricky to negotiate in Europe where people regularly roam outside their home countries.

An acid test will be the upcoming Christmas period. If Amazon can't launch the Kindle in key markets like the UK and Germany this year, it may be too late for a happily ever after ending.