Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader has turned up FCC paperwork suggesting that the Kindle Oasis might have Bluetooth built in, and possibly even an earphone jack. The paperwork is light on details, given that it’s filed as part of the supporting documentation for FCC tests of new hardware and such material nearly always leaves out most useful information in the name of secrecy.
Nate wonders whether this might justify the high price tag of the Oasis, and be meant to permit the Kindle to stream audio to a speaker or hook up to Amazon’s Echo home automation system. Or perhaps it might work with a keyboard case for taking notes on books.
It’s a nice thought, but I’m highly skeptical. For one thing, none of Amazon’s marketing documentation mentions Bluetooth or earphones at all. If it was going to be important, you would think Amazon would want to mention it from the outset, even if it wasn’t fully functional yet.
More importantly, Amazon removed all audio support from its Kindle e-readers a couple of models back, in favor of shifting audio playback and text-to-speech over to its Fire tablet line. This leaves the Kindle free to concentrate on text e-books and nothing else. As much as David Rothman might wish Amazon would add text-to-speech support back to the Kindles, it doesn’t make sense for the company to reverse itself on that at this point.
My suspicion is that the comments on the headphone story and on The Digital Reader piece have it right—WiFi chips usually include Bluetooth support built in. That doesn’t mean any device that uses the WiFi chip will necessarily do anything with the Bluetooth support. Many devices only use part of the function of commodity chips, because buying a chip that does more than they need actually costs less than designing a whole new chip that only does exactly what they need. The FCC paperwork just mentions Bluetooth because it’s there, not because the device actually plans to use it.
I can’t see Amazon bringing audio support back to the Kindle Oasis, and I certainly can’t see the company doing that and not saying anything about it.
But I could be wrong! I look forward to finding out when the Oasis finally starts shipping to people.