Let’s get one thing clear: at a starting price of Rs 27,999 for the 3G+Wi-Fi edition (Rs 23,999 for the Wi-Fi only edition), the Amazon Kindle Oasis is the most expensive Kindle in the market right now. In the US, it starts from USD 289 (about Rs 19,200) for an ad-supported version, and up to USD 380 for the high-end 3G+Wi-Fi edition (about Rs 25,200). Pretty high for an e-book reader. So high that many of our colleagues have gone overboard and labelled it the “most expensive Kindle ever.”
With due respect to them, they are absolutely wrong.
The Kindle was in fact very much a niche and an expensive device for most of its initial period and came out with a relatively affordable version only in 2010, almost three years after the first Kindle had been launched. And surprise, surprise, most of the early models of the Kindle were more expensive than the Kindle Oasis.
Sounds hard to believe? Well, we too were surprised when a friend told us about it, but a bit of research through Amazon’s excellent press release archive reveals the following: (we are focusing on the Kindle e-book readers and not the Fire variants, which are Android tablets).
- The first Kindle was released on November 19, 2007. And it was priced at…USD 399 (about Rs 26,500 by today’s exchange rates). Little above the high-end USD 380 Kindle Oasis
- On February 9, 2009, Amazon launched the Kindle 2 with a slimmer design and better battery life. The price was USD 359 (about Rs 23,800 by today’s rates). Now, this is below the high-end Oasis model but is above the Wi-Fi versions of the Oasis.
- On May 6 2009, Amazon introduced the Kindle DX, which sported a 9.7-inch display – interestingly, exactly the same size as the yet to be announced iPad. It was not only the largest Kindle e-book reader ever, but also remains the most expensive to this day – it cost USD 489 (about Rs 32,500), which is not only more than the price of the Oasis and in Indian Rupee terms, about as expensive as an iPad Air 2 today. The price of the DX was maintained even when Amazon introduced its “international” version in January 2010.
- On October 7, 2009, Amazon introduced an international edition of the Kindle 2. And on paper, it was the first Kindle device that cost less than the Oasis – it was priced at USD 279 (about Rs 18,550 by today’s rates) – the first Kindle that actually dipped below the USD 300 barrier, and close to the base Oasis model .
- It was in late October, 2009 that Amazon started moving the Kindle more affordable. The price of the Kindle 2 international edition was slashed from USD 279 to USD 259 (about Rs 17,200). And on June 21, 2010, the price was further slashed to less than half of the original Kindle, USD 189 (about Rs 12,500 by today’s rates), making the Kindle 2 perhaps the first “affordable” Kindle.
- On July 1 2010, Amazon released the second edition of the Kindle DX and in keeping with the lower price policy, priced it at USD 379 (about Rs 25,200 by today’s rates). While this was significantly lower than the USD 489 price of the previous Kindle DX, it was very close to the USD 380 price of the high-end Oasis.
- The Kindle finally came off its super niche pedestal when the third generation of the device (later christened the Kindle Keyboard) was launched on July 28, 2010. For the first time, two variants of the device were introduced. a 3G one for USD 189 and a Wi-Fi only one for USD 139 (about Rs 9,200 by today’s rates). In May 2011, Amazon introduced an ad-supported version of the Kindle for USD 114 (about Rs 7500). Henceforth, most Kindles came with two variants – Wi-Fi only and a 3G+Wi-Fi one, and these got even more affordable, if you agreed to view some ads on them (they were called “Kindles with special offers”).
- The downward spiral of the Kindle’s price continued with the Kindle 4 in September 2011, which came with an ad-supported model for as low as USD 79 (about Rs 5200) and even the first Kindle with a touchscreen, the Kindle Touch was introduced at USD 99 for an ad-supported version and USD 139 for a no-ad version.
- When the Kindle Paperwhite was introduced in September 2012, it too started at USD 119 (about Rs 7200) for an ad-supported version and USD 139 (about Rs 9200)for an ad-free one.
- Although the prices of the Kindle and the Paperwhite continued to remain on the relatively lower side, Amazon did not give up on the premium segment and in October 2014, introduced the Kindle Voyage, which started at USD 199 for an ad-supported but whose highest version (3G+Wi-Fi, no ads) came for the same price as the base model of the Kindle Oasis – USD 289.
If you want to break it down in simple terms, the high-end Kindle Oasis is in fact the third most expensive Kindle: the Kindle and the Kindle DX, were launched at higher prices, while the Kindle DX (2nd generation) was priced very close to it. Even the second generation of the Kindle cost more than the Wi-Fi editions of the Oasis.
Yes, the Oasis is an expensive Kindle. But it is not the most expensive one. Not by a mile! That was the first DX, which cost about USD 109 more!