Eight years after launching the first Kindle, Amazon (AMZN) has rolled out its lightest and thinnest version of its pioneering e-reader yet, but it carries a hefty price tag that might hamper sales.
The new Oasis Kindle is 30% thinner on average and more than 20% lighter than any other Kindle, and is designed to make you forget that you're even holding a device at all. It also comes with a recharging cover that will power the device for months.
"To lean back and read for hours, you need a sanctuary from distraction," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "We want Kindle to disappear, and Kindle Oasis is the next big step in that mission. It's the most advanced Kindle we've ever built -- thin and ultra-lightweight, it gets out of the way so you can lose yourself in the author's world."
But to get that sanctuary experience, you're going to have to shell out $290, a price point that analysts say will likely limit its appeal.
"Kindle has been successful for them, and they're trying to continue to gain share in the tablet market," Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said. "I don't think it will have much impact, as it is pricey, and not particularly differentiated. People buy iPads for the app ecosystem, and that will be hard for Amazon to replicate. However, if they remain patient, Amazon may ultimately be able to compete at the high end, pending increases in their access to killer apps."
Needham & Company analyst Kerry Rice agreed that the Oasis won't be that revolutionary.
"Some will pay more, but I believe the price will keep unit volumes subdued," he said.
After Amazon's attempt to develop its own phone flopped, the company seems to be focusing its device strategy more on areas that are more closely tied to its core businesses. Devices like the Echo and Dash have a tie into e-commerce, and the Kindle has a direct tie into Amazon's e-book business.
This new Oasis Kindle shows that the device side of Amazon is here to stay.
"Devices generally are a distant third in Amazon's priority," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said. "It's retail, AWS, and then devices."
The Oasis is available for pre-order starting today and will begin shipping in the coming weeks.