Amazon Drops Starting Price of 3G-Enabled Kindle to $164

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In response to Barnes & Noble’s impressively small and simple touchscreen “Nook” e-reader announcement from yesterday, Amazon made an announcement of its own: an ad-supported Kindle with a built-in 3G connection for $164. The price for the device without ads is $189.

Amazon rolled out a Wi-Fi version of the “Kindle with Special Offers” for $114 recently—the regular version costs $139. The so-called special offers are displayed as screen savers and as small ads at the bottom of the device’s home screen, but “they don’t interrupt reading,” says Amazon.

I’ve contended (and continue to contend) that the 3G-enabled Kindle is an excellent device for world travelers, as the built-in AT&T connection works all over the world. Basic web surfing is free, as are book downloads. The web browser isn’t anything to write home about, but the 3G Kindle makes a great option for checking e-mail quickly without incurring big roaming fees or trying to find an open Wi-Fi network while abroad.

That being said, this new $139 Nook that Barnes & Noble will probably be able to entice some e-book fence-sitters looking for something that’s drop-dead simple to operate.

Behind the scenes, though, the goal for both Barnes & Noble and Amazon is just to get people in the door and buying books so they feel locked into a platform. Do I think the new Nook looks cool? Yep. Will I buy one? Nope. I’ve already purchased too many Kindle books to switch. Well played, Amazon.

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