Want a Color Kindle? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Jeff Bezos told investors yesterday that a Kindle with a color display “multiple” years away. Bezos also declined to share Kindle sales numbers at the annual shareholders meeting.

While many Kindle users are perfectly happy with the device’s black and white display, I think the Kindle needs to turn to color if it wants to survive over the long term. Amazon partnered with several Universities and publishers to offer students Kindles loaded with textbooks. Science, engineering, history and other textbooks are loaded with color illustrations and photos, which means students will have to give up something when making the switch.

A lot of functionality and monetization is limited by the Kindle’s black and white display. Do you really want to pay $.99 a month for a black and white version of your favorite blog’s RSS feed? Full color would also offer a much better shopping experience when shopping for books and other items on Amazon.com.

Pixel Q has developed a screen that switches between B/W and color. Something like this would be ideal for reading text and then switching to color mode when you need to view photos or browse other content.

A lot of people waiting on the sidelines that haven’t bought a Kindle are asking for features like a touchscreen display. Of course, there’s a fine line between an reading device and a Tablet PC. Considering the Kindle DX’s relatively high price point, that line is sure to blur as Tablet PC prices continue to fall. Amazon already offers a Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I’m hoping that Amazon offers up a similar solution for PC users.

I bought the original Kindle, but returned it because I don’t read enough books to justify the cost and I really didn’t like carrying around an additional device that was only good at one thing. Between whichever computer I have on me and my iPhone, I’m pretty much covered.   In general, devices gain functionality over time and the Kindle is no exception. But if you want a color Kindle don’t hold your breath.

It will be very interesting to see how the Kindle’s hardware and software evolve over the next few years. I’m especially interested in seeing how college kids end up using the devices starting this fall. Will they actually read, or would they prefer to use a Kindle that looked more like the one in the below video?