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Amazon.com Is Said to Be Introducing Thinner Kindle in August

Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, plans to introduce the next version of its Kindle electronic-book reader in August, according to two people familiar with its plans.

The device will be thinner and have a more responsive screen with a sharper picture, the people said, who didn’t want to be identified because the plans aren’t public. The new Kindle won’t include a touch screen or color, they said.

Amazon.com, which introduced the Kindle in 2007, faces increased competition from Apple Inc.’s iPad -- a color tablet device that lets users browse the Web, watch video and read digital books. The new Kindle may be aimed more at Amazon.com’s original e-reader competitors -- Sony Corp. and Barnes & Noble Inc. -- than the newer threat from the iPad, said James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

“It’s probably likely that Amazon already had this one in mind, more out of a response to Sony than out of any response to Apple,” McQuivey said. Amazon.com may not have a direct challenger to the iPad this year, he said.

Craig Berman, a spokesman for Seattle-based Amazon.com, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Amazon.com fell $1.24 to $125.46 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have declined 6.7 percent this year.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos said this week that the company was concentrating on wooing committed book readers and that a color display screen is “some ways out.”

Not Ready

“I’ve seen some stuff in the laboratory, but it’s not quite ready for prime-time production,” Bezos said May 25 at the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

The Kindle uses a black-and-white screen that mimics the appearance of paper. The new version will have sharper contrast that makes e-books look more like real books, the people familiar with the product said. The delay during page turns also will be shortened. The iPad, meanwhile, uses a full-color LCD screen.

Sony is taking on the Kindle with a touch-screen reader, which it introduced last year. Barnes & Noble’s Nook device made its debut in October.

The Kindle currently sells for $259, the same price as the Nook. Sony sells its touch-screen device for $199. The iPad starts at $499.

About 6 million e-readers will be sold this year, up from 3 million last year, according to Forrester Research Inc. The Kindle has about 60 percent of the U.S. market, followed by Sony with 35 percent, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research firm estimates.

Earlier this year, Amazon.com bought a company called Touchco, which specializes in touch-screen technology, according to the people.

To contact the reporters on this story: Peter Burrows in San Francisco at pburrows@bloomberg.net; Joseph Galante in San Francisco at jgalante3@bloomberg.net

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