Amazon Looks To Increase Kindle E-Reader Lead With Firmware Upgrade


Amazon said Tuesday that the Kindle 2, its second generation Kindle, can now read PDF files in their native format, and also convert those PDF files to Kindle format. Amazon also released a firmware update that it says improves the Kindle's power management, thereby increasing the Kindle battery life by as much as 85 percent.

These are no small improvements. With Kindle competitors coming out of the woodwork to challenge what so far as been Amazon Kindle's bete noir -- that is, that it supports only Kindle proprietary format while other e-readers support open standards -- the PDF change is not only smart, but timely. And just as in the smartphone market and other mobile device markets, battery life is a key differentiator and selling point for consumers, so if Amazon delivers on a promise to kick up battery life by 85 percent, that's another feather in its cap.

Amazon has already put marketing muscle behind its Kindle push for the holidays, hoping to capitalize on supply shortages from rivals like Barnes & Noble's Nook and Sony's Daily Edition e-reader. Both Barnes & Noble and Sony last week confirmed that their initial e-reader supplies were depleted and couldn't guarantee shipping in time for Christmas.

Amazon is poised to end 2009 with a 60 percent share of the e-reader market in the U.S., according to Forrester Research. Sony is second, with 35 percent, but Barnes & Noble and other competitors like the forthcoming Plastic Logic Que and the Spring Design Alex are threatening to eat into that market share next year.

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For more on Sony, Amazon and the e-reader landscape, check out's side-by-side comparison of Kindle, Sony Readers and Plastic Logic Que.