Kindle 3 announced this week?

Remember back in February when we were hearing rumors of a Kindle 3 that might ship before the end of the year? That seemed like a pretty aggressive release schedule at the time, but it seems like the rumor was being overly-conservative. According to an article in the New York Times, the device is real and ready to be announced...this week! Backing that up, Peter Kafka at All Things Digital has shared the fact that Amazon has invited him to a press conference Wednesday morning (April 6th) at Pace University. Kafka notes:

Say this for whoever’s organizing Amazon’s product announcements — they’ve got a nice sense of whimsy. Amazon showed off Kindle 2.0 at the Morgan Library. And Pace University, located just next to the Brooklyn Bridge, sits on the site of the New York Times (NYT)’s 19th century headquarters. The Times, according to the Times, is partnering with Amazon on the new gadget.

The NY Times article says "An Amazon spokesman would not comment, but some news organizations, including The New York Times, are expected to be involved in the introduction of the device, according to people briefed on the plans." so the pieces all fit nicely together.

Assuming this is all true, how is Amazon going to introduce a Kindle 3 this soon after the Kindle 2 without alienating early adopters of the second iteration of the device? Maybe the Kindle 3 will be a high end 'executive toy' kind of device, priced high enough ($600?) that most existing owners won't feel like they missed an opportunity. Or maybe they'll go in the other direction and have readers 'lease' a Kindle 3 with their subscription to a newspaper, and somehow lock the device in to only displaying that newspaper? Both these ideas are pure speculation on my part.

In any case it seems like Amazon has beaten both the large format Plastic Logic device, and the rumored Hearst-developed periodical e-reader, to market. There's no evidence that this new Kindle has any kind of upgraded technology (specifically, no mention of a color screen); will the larger format be enough to get customers to trade-up to, or pay more for, Kindle 3? It's hard to imagine Amazon retiring Kindle 2 so soon, so I expect they'll keep both products on the market.

Hopefully we'll have more details, and some answers, on Wednesday.

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