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Color Kindle Deep On Amazon Horizon

Amazon says it will compete with the iPad by targeting "serious readers" who appreciate the clarity of a black-and-white screen for displaying text.

The number of color-capable electronic readers is growing, but despite the stiffer competition, Amazon says it won't be releasing a color Kindle anytime soon.

During the company's annual shareholder meeting, chief executive Jeff Bezos said Tuesday Amazon would continue to target avid readers who appreciate a black-and-white screen that's better suited for displaying text than competing devices, such as Apple's iPad, which appeals to a much broader market.

"The Kindle will compete with these LCD devices like the iPad by being a very focused product," Bezos said, according to The Wall Street Journal. "Serious readers are going to want a purpose-built device, because it's an important activity for them."

The Kindle uses an electronic paper display from E Ink, which is working on a color version, but has yet to develop satisfactory technology. Bezos acknowledged as much by telling shareholders that a color Kindle "is still some ways out."

In the meantime, Amazon is facing tougher competition not just from Apple, but also from other e-reader manufacturers. Besides offering color displays, some manufacturers are selling devices that are less expensive and provide more functionality, such as Web browsing.

One such manufacturer is Pandigital. The company this week said it plans to release in June an e-reader that can also play music and video and browse the Web. Built on Google's Android operating system, the device has a seven-inch LCD and sells for $200, which is $59 less than the starting price for the Kindle.

Amazon won't say how many Kindles it has sold, other than saying "millions" since its release in 2007. The Kindle led the e-reader market last year, according to analysts.

However, this year sees a more crowded market, with e-readers being offered by other booksellers, such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, as well as manufacturers Pandigital, Sony, Plastic Logic, and others. In addition, slate computers capable of acting as e-readers, such as the iPad, could also steal share.

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