I tend to judge the popularity of electronic devices on how often I see them in the subway or airport. By that standard, the first couple generations of Kindle were slowly gaining in popularity over the course of several years, but never really went mainstream. When Amazon started slashing the prices, however, the Kindle took off. Now, it's tough to get on a plane or busy subway car without seeing one.
When Amazon introduced its newest set of Kindles a few weeks back, the Fire got most of the attention, since its price and Amazon's backing suggest that it might be the device that takes Android on tablets into the mainstream. But for Amazon, the Kindle that might have the biggest impact is the low-end, black-and-white model. At an ad-supported $79, these things are intended to be impulse buys, something that you might just drop under the tree over the holidays if you run out of ideas. And, once they're in the hands of consumers, Amazon hopes they'll extend its lead in the e-book market, with the DRM lock-in that goes with it, so thoroughly that it will take a nuclear weapon to change things.
This new model also represents a bit of a departure for Amazon, in that it's the first without a keyboard. How does that work out?