Amazon slashed the price of its Kindle eBook reader in the United States earlier today. Of course the move was treated with suspicion, and rumors quickly followed that Amazon intended to phase out the present Kindle in favor of a successor. Originally releasing in 2007, the Kindle line has been refreshed three times at present. The current iteration, identified in most media as the 'Kindle 3' (Amazon have never numbered iterations of the Kindle, though it is the third version of the device) released in July 2010. Slashgear reports that the refurbished WiFi version of the Kindle is retailing for $99, while the refurbished 3G model is $129.99.
Kindle 3 devices have proven popular in both North America and the United Kingdom, becoming the most popular eBook Reader on the market. Other alternatives exist including the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Sony PRS series. None of the alternative eBook readers available have been able to boast the same successes as the Kindle. It is also possible that the Kindle line may be discontinued, being replaced by an Amazon tablet sometime during the year. More rumors suggest that the Amazon tablet, as it is currently known, may release around October. This could coincide with the reduction of Kindle 3 stock, spurred on by the price reductions.
The chance of Amazon killing off the Kindle line is extremely slim, however. Having grown extremely popular, it would make little sense to completely remove the device and replace it with a tablet that may not be as portable. Therefore, the internet rumor mill seems to have disregarded the discontinuation of the devices. However, new Kindle may do away with the physical keyboard used at present. This would come as no real surprise, with other eBook readers having offered this feature for quite some time. A new Kindle could also provide a further improved eInk screen or other changes.
It is impossible to accurately tell what features a new Kindle may boast, though the release of a tablet may alter the Kindle's position in the market. It may not remain the only eBook reading option offered by Amazon, potentially being side-lined as an alternative to a tablet. It would definitely be surprising if the Amazon tablet did not include some form of Kindle eBook reading feature due to the extreme popularity of the Kindle Store. The tablet may become Amazon's main device for pushing eBooks, but it does not seem likely that it will be their only device, as some rumors might suggest.