Kindle’s death sentence commuted: Why the iPad will fail as an eReader
Now that we have those answers we can safely say to traditional EPD eReaders like the Kindle, Nook and Sony Readers that their execution has been commuted… for now.
The Apple iPad is not going to replace eReaders. Sure, it will be used as an eReader. Plenty of people will have no problem reading their favorite eBooks on it’s large, 9.7-inch screen. They’ll enjoy going to iBooks and downloading newspapers, magazines and other reading material, placing the blockish and heavy device in their lap and staring into the bright screen for up to 10 hours. They’ll be comforted to know that an Apple logo rests upon their khakis or jeans while they’re doing this.
But there will be more people — many more people — who desire an eReader platform and see the iPad as a weak offering. It has no reflective display to offer. It uses no new color screen technology that would have really excited some people (ourselves included). It’s heavy and bulky. It has a battery life that lasts 2/5ths of a day. You’ll need a murse (if a man) to carry it around.
The iPad will be a success (mostly due to the diluted price). It just won’t be a success when it comes to reading. Out of our three criteria it solidly hits the price element, fouls off on the eBook delivery method and disastrously strikes out on the display. It’s like The Natural (the book version, not the uplifting movie). It swings for eReader fences but comes up short.
Apple was pretty ingenious in the pricing of this thing. They’ve fooled everyone into thinking that the iPad is a cheap device and affordable by all. But that’s only because they’ve introduced a very limited 16GB version with no 3G at a tasty price point. If you want a meatier storage capacity and 3G connection you’re now looking at a not-so-reasonable $829. While the no contract AT&T 3G service is a masterful stroke, you’re still looking at paying $360 a year for an unlimited 3G connection. That means you’ll be paying $1,200 for the Apple iPad you really want during the first year. Still, Apple can wisely claim their iPad is only $500 and that’s what people will remember when they associate price with the device.
With the introduction of iBooks, Apple has given iPad owners an iTunes for eBooks. It uses ePub but it appears that Apple haven’t learned their lesson from the proprietary iTunes days. Apple’s ePub is still DRM controlled and can’t be used on anything but other Apple products. Still, the main problem with the iPad’s eBook strategy is a good one for consumers — they leave the door open for other eBook marketplaces. Having iPhone/iPod Touch application compatibility means there’s nothing stopping a user from downloading the free Kindle or B&N eBook marketplace applications and “double pixeling” (the stupidest term to come from yesterday’s announcement in our opinion) it to full screen for reading. In effect, it’s allowing users to go shop at another store while using your shopping cart. It’s also something that Amazon will latch onto. Now you can read your Kindle books on your iPad. Good for Kindle users, bad for Apple strategy.
Yes Kindle, you are safe. You have been granted a stay of execution and Apple will not be flipping the switch on you or your other E-Ink deathrow inmates. In fact, this may give the Kindle enough time to introduce its 3rd generation Kindle. One with a Mirasol or Pixel Qi screen that is capable of supporting a high framerate and reflective color. Apple had a chance to do away with the E-Ink generation but they’ve failed quite substantially. It’s a reprieve that Amazon and Sony are sure to take advantage of.