NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I spent Thursday covering the Amazon ( AMZN) event for the Kindle Fire, and it's all about the ladies.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Computing has skewed heavily male ever since I got into it. The female skew here isn't aimed at demeaning women. It's just aimed at them. For starters, CEO Jeff Bezos spent 35 minutes onstage before ever getting to his Fire tablets. Instead, he focused on a new version of the Kindle e-reader, called the PaperWhite. Why does this matter? Women read. My own wife never watches TV. Instead she parks herself in the back of the house each night after dinner and reads until she falls asleep. Looking at the Kindle best-seller list, you'll see a host of products that mainly appeal to women, and only a few aimed at men. Priced at $119 ($89 if you accept Amazon ads on it) the PaperWhite is bright enough to read with the lights out, and will run for eight weeks between charges with that light turned on. (This last drew gasps from the live audience.) Bezos then showed a chart, without numbers, indicating sales of Kindle books are now double those of physical books. He also spent considerable time on the company's self-publishing services. Bezos aims to own both reading and publishing -- he wants the next "50 Shades of Gray" to just show up on the store, and maybe it will. To push that even further, there's a new "Kindle Serials" feature. Buy all installments of an ongoing project for one low price. I well remember reading, 10 years ago, of how even big-name authors were dreaming of ditching their publishers and going to a model like this. Here it is. Reporters, most of them men, almost slept through the e-reader presentation, and the stock even fell during it. They woke up only after Bezos moved on to his new tablets (and there are two -- a 7-inch and a 9-inch). But even here Bezos emphasized the Kindle's positioning as a service, not a product. The Fire is a channel to everything Amazon sells, physical and digital, and the features are geared toward that. For instance. The new Fire supports MIMO, a faster WiFi feature found in 802.11N routers. Great for downloading movies before heading out on that trans-Pacific flight. There's more memory, to store more stuff, and Dolby sound, so those movies sound better. There is social networking support, and with the front-facing camera you can Skype mom, or your friends, all night and day. Plus X-Ray, a feature that connects back to the Amazon site so you can find out more about the actors you're watching.