Will Amazon's Kindle be free by November?

It seems unlikely, but bloggers point out that if the Kindle's price declines continue, it could be free by the end of 2011

The price of the popular Kindle e-reader has plummeted dramatically over the past two years, as growing competition from Apple's iPad and competing e-readers like Barnes & Noble's Nook has inspired some impressive price-cutting on Amazon's part. The Kindle, which cost $350 in February 2009, is now as low as $139 for the Wi-Fi-only version.

So where does it go from here?

Possibly to zero by the end of the year, predicts Wired co-found Kevin Kelly in a February 25 post on his Technium site. Kelly's blog includes the chart below that dramatically illustrates the Kindle's price free-fall since 2009. (The 2011 data, of course, is projected.)

Kelly acknowledges that pundits before him have spotted the Kindle's consistent price decline. Blogger John Walkenbach, for instance, predicted the e-reader would be free by November 2011. When Kelly asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about the Kindle's southward march, Bezos reportedly smiled and said, "Oh, you noticed that!"

A coy response doesn't mean free Kindles by the holidays, of course. But would a free strategy make sense for Amazon?

Business Insider's Jay Yarow doesn't see it happening, but adds that Amazon may very well offer deeply-discounted Kindles to its Amazon Prime customers, who currently pay $79 per for free, two-day shipping and a new Netflix-like video-streaming service.

Kelly believes a free-Kindle strategy makes a lot of sense.

"I don't know if this is Amazon's plan, but it should be. It brilliantly feeds into Bezo's long-term strategy of nurturing extreme customer satisfaction. What could be more satisfying that a free Kindle, free movies, and free 2-day shipping for $80 a year? If the past is any indication of future events, expect an as-if-free Kindle this fall in time for the holidays. Brilliant indeed!"

Other suggestions? How about a free Kindle with the purchase of (insert number here) Kindle books? Your ideas are welcome.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com

This story, "Will Amazon's Kindle be free by November?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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