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Posts Tagged ‘kindle vs. ipad’

Amazon's New Kindle: Still Too Close to the iPad?

In Entertainment, Technology on July 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm
Kindle DX and Kindle 2

Image via Wikipedia

Starting today Amazon is taking orders for its new Kindle DX and while I have no doubt that people will buy it, I really have to wonder just how many.

First off, the device — which ships July 7 — is priced at $379, which is really too expensive to be considered an impulse buy.

And it’s only $120 away from an iPad and it seems to me that’s a little too close.

What makes it a little more confusing is that just last week, Amazon seemed to recognize the importance of lowering the price, which they did with their slightly smaller version.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has frequently claimed that the iPad and the Kindle aren’t really competitors; they’re different devices intended for different people. The Kindle, he says, is for readers unlike tablets, which are for, I guess, everyone else. He said it again just the other day.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of great things about the Kindle particularly, as cnet points out, that the thing is incredibly readable in sunlight, unlike the iPad.

Still, the thing is if you have a choice between the $189 Kindle and the $379 Kindle, why get the more expensive one? I guess if you really want a device that is really just a reader, it is your answer. But if you’re going to spend the money, why not just bump it up a little and get a device that does so much more?

I think Amazon’s great but I sort of sense this is a stumble for them.

On the plus side, one bit of really good news is that Amazon has finally released Kindle for Android devices.

As I’ve pointed out, Kindle isn’t just a device — it’s software that runs on many devices. I use Kindle on my iPad on a regular basis — and Android has pretty much been the final frontier for them.

Kindle’s great software. The device — at $189 — is great. At $379 — overpriced, I suspect.

Apple and Amazon Likely Winners in Price Wars

In Entertainment, Media, Technology on June 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

As I wrote yesterday, Barnes and Noble introduced a new Wi-Fi only Nook and dropped the price on its 3G Nook, undercutting Amazon’s Kindle. As a result, Amazon then dropped the price of the Kindle, undercutting the Nook, if only by $10.

It’s a price war kind of started by Apple when it introduced its iPad.

The iPad, which is not cheap — priced between $499 and $699, started the war because suddenly everyone started questioning why they should be paying hundreds of dollars for devices that are pretty much just e-readers when for a bit more they can have something that does so much more.

By lowering the price of the Nook and the Kindle, Amazon and Barnes and Noble are conceding that point, admitting that while there are people who want to be able to carry large amounts of books with them and really focused on just reading, it’s probably not the majority.

Lowering the price brings the Kindle and Nook much closer to being a legitimate impulse buy.

But is it too little too late?

Barnes and Noble (and Borders, which is about to introduce its Kobo) is a great, old-fashioned, brick and mortar retailer. They’re not a technology company. So, while the Nook with its color screen and ability to lend books is a pretty good device, I can’t imagine they’re making a fortune from it or that they even think they’re going to make a fortune from it.

It seems that the world is moving more toward tablets that do more than just allow you to carry around the complete works of Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, John Updike and a dozen others.I think when it all shakes out, we’re going to see Apple and Amazon at the top of the pile.

Why? I’m not saying Nook and Kobo and the Sony Reader and these other devices won’t be around. I’m just thinking they won’t be playing at the same level as Amazon and Apple.

First, you have Amazon, which everyone already associates with online retailing, especially books. I mean, they weren’t the first but I bet if you ask most people they would guess Amazon was. Second, as I’ve pointed out before, Kindle isn’t just a device, it’s a software platform that operates on several devices.

And it’s actually a really good bit of software.

The funny thing is that while there’s a lot to be said for Kindle the device, it’s really hard to beat Kindle for the iPad when it comes to a pleasant reading experience (despite what Ray Kurzweil thinks).

I think Amazon’s too entrenched in the minds of people to go anywhere and the fact that their software works on several devices will keep them around for quite a while. At the same time, Apple keeps showing they’re building devices to lead the pack. And with the iPad, they’ve created a device that allows for designers to turn books into apps that are fun, creative, interactive (see Alice in Wonderland).

What about Apple’s online bookstore and software, iBooks? One, it’s good but not quite as good as Kindle and two, for now it only works on Apple devices, which limits its growth.

What could change that is if Apple decides to send iBooks out into the world the way did with iTunes, making it available for Windows devices.

Krossroads for Kindle or Running the Table(ts) Before Apple's Unveiling

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 8:49 am
Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

So, it’s not exactly a secret that Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference gets underway next week in San Francisco and the newest iteration of the iPhone is expected to be released.

There’s also all sorts of rumors about other things that may or may not be unveiled.

A new version of MobileMe?

An updated Mac mini?

And while it’s beginning to seem increasingly unlikely that a Verizon iPhone will be a part of the mix at this point, Apple CEO Steve Jobs promises people “won’t be disappointed.”

It also seems that there won’t be any major announcements related to the iPad, which may or may not be the leading tablet device out there but certainly has the perception of setting the bar.

One thing that is for sure is that the new iPhone will give users access to Apple’s iBookstore. It was something that was announced as part of the preview of the phone’s new operating system and that has been driven home in recent press reports.

What makes that tidbit especially relevant is that a report came out last week basically saying that advances with the iPad, the iPhone and other tablet devices that allow users to read books among other things are going to severely limit the growth of the dedicated e-reader such as the Kindle.

“This is a real wake-up call for e-reader vendors and will force them to improve their products and their communications about the benefits of owning a dedicated e-reader,” said the report from Informa telecoms and media. “We believe this ill cause the market to segment into two different groups – low price, low feature and high price, advanced feature models.”

Informa believes that dedicated e-reader sales will peak in 2013 and then start to fall.

First, let’s just dismiss the second part of their assertion about the market segmenting because saying that there’s going to be high end and low end devices… well, geez. Really? Would have never figured that.

In fact, I would suspect that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would agree with the high-end and low-end reading devices concept except he would say that his Kindle is the high-end reading device and things like the iPad that do other things are the low end in his book.

Bezos says that unlike the iPad, “the Kindle is all about reading” and that serious readers are happy to have a device geared toward them pointing out that high-end cameras are still relevant despite the prevalence of camera phones (the Kindle is the high-end camera in that equation).

This sort of thinking seems to also be reflected in the latest announcements about the new version of the KIndle coming out this summer.

Bloomberg reported last week that Amazon will introduce a new, thinner Kindle in August with a more responsive screen and sharper picture. It will also be about half as thick as the iPad.

One thing that it won’t have is color and that’s okay with Bezos who says it’s “still some ways out.”

Meanwhile, Android-based tablets are proliferating.

There’s the  Dell Streak and the Samsung Galaxy .

And, as IDG News wrote, at the Computex Tapei 2010 Show, there are more than a dozen Android and Windows rivals to the iPad coming out.

The problem with all of these new tablets (except, obviously, the Kindle) is that, for now anyway, they are lacking as e-readers.

Obviously, they can’t read stuff from the Apple store and, Amazon has yet to release Kindle software for Android devices, though that’s expected to finally change this summer.

The bottom line is that I think that Amazon’s going to be okay especially since Kindle isn’t just a device, it’s a software platform that will soon be on many more devices.

Last November, a report from Gartner predicted that this is going “to be the year when e-book readers really beomce popular consumer electronic devices” and I suspect they’re right.

The Kindle's a Failure… Not Really — It's 'Just Not Ready for Prime Time'

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Kindle "Not Ready for Prime Time" as Teaching Tool

It was bad news for Kindle last week.

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business announced the results of their experiment with Amazon’s wireless e-reader, testing whether it would made a good educational tool.

The program gave Kindle DXs to a group of first year MBA students, allowing them “to acess textbooks, case studies, newspapers and other learning materials.”

There was a lot of excitement about the project.

“Today was a special day,” the university posted. “Each new Kindle arrived in a cool blue leather hacet.”

That was in August.

Friday, there was a little less excitement.

“Most Darden students prefer not to use the electronic reading devices in the B-school classroom,” the school concluded though it was clear from the students that they enjoyed it as a reading device.

“What that says to me is that Amazon created a very well-designed consumer device for purchasing and reading digital books, magazines and newspapers,” according to Michael Koenig, the school’s director of MBA operations. “It’s not yet ready for prime time in the highly engaged Darden business school classroom.”

There were similar thoughts at Princeton where, despite high hopes about paper reduction, students liked it more as a reader than a study tool, noting their inability to highlight text among other things.

“I found the device difficult to use and not conducive to academic purposes,” said sophomore Eddie Skolnick. “But I can see how it can be used for pleasure reading.”

Of course, these are separate issues from pushback Amazon received from the United States Department of Justice, which asked colleges to stop testing the device until it was more accessible to blind students.

The thing is, as Reed College pointed out after they studied the device:

“While students and faculty in Reed’s Kindle study were unanimous in reporting that the Kindle DX –– in its current incarnation –– was unable to meet their academic needs, many felt that once technical and other issues have been addressed, eReaders will play a significant, possibly a transformative, role in higher education.”

Meanwhile, now that Apple has released the iPad, they are making a go at the academic market.

Rutgers has signed up to test the device as has Duke and others.

An article last month in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggested that it could take a little while for it to catch on though it suggested it will be helped by apps.

Here’s the thing… there’s a lot of talk (here included) about who is winning: iPad or Kindle?

But, the fact is that as advanced as they are, we are still very early in the evolutionary process.

It will be interesting to see where things go and how the iPad tests at universities go and what lessons Amazon takes away from their trial runs.

IPad vs. Nook vs. Kindle: Who's Winning (If anyone)?

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 at 9:29 am
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

So, it’s been almost a month since the IPad came out and the question on everyone’s mind — is the Kindle dead yet?

Well, maybe that’s not the question on everyone’s mind but I’m sure someone, somewhere, might be wondering. After all, a lot of the talk (here included) was about whether or not it would be a Kindle killer, would it help the Kindle or would the two find a way to co-exist.

Before we get to that, though, let’s take a quick look at the pre-IPad world.

According to a report earlier this week from Digitimes Research, which tracks this sort of thing, in March — the Nook from Barnes and Noble outsold the KIndle, accounting for roughly 53 percent of all e-book readers shipped that month.

The site attributed that to the fact that the Nook was fairly new, the Kindle had been on the market, and people were curious about the new thing.

Digitimes estimates that 1.43 million e-reader devices shipped during the first quarter of 2010, the last quarter Before IPad.

So, where does Apple’s new device fit into this landscape?

Well, keep that 1.43 million number in mind.

First, there was the announcement from Apple that they had sold 300,000 units the first day, which was a testament to the company’s ever-successful hype machine (plus the fact they tend to deliver on that hype).

Then, less than a week later, while unveiling the new IPhone operating system, they revealed they had sold another 150,000 devices.

Now, let me introduce you to Chitika Labs, which has been using cookies to track IPad sales. They concede it’s not a perfect system but, they seem pretty confident.

As of this writing, their live counter indicated that more than 1.1 million IPads have been sold already.

Which brings us back to the beginning: who’s winning? Well, on one level, it would seem Apple based on sales alone.

But what does it all mean? Does it mean the Kindle is doomed? The Nook’s on its way out?

With meaning to be too much of a wuss, I would have to say the answers are: it’s too early too really tell but my sense is, it’s all good and no and no.

While I have a soft spot for the printed word, books and newspapers that I can hold in my hand, and want them to be around for a long time — and am also concerned that the emphasis on e-readers, could take away from kids in schools, I do think that anything that gets people reading more is probably a good thing.

The question that remains, though, is that what’s happening?

According to Appitzr.com, which tracks apps, books make up more than one out of every five apps available in the ITunes store — 22 percent — yet account for only 3 percent of apps that are downloaded.

In other words, while new devices keep coming out, it may be too early to declare a winner and, in the meantime, keep visiting bookstores — an independent one, if you can.

Apple Advances Helping Amazon?

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on April 10, 2010 at 9:08 am

So, yesterday Apple announced the newest version of their IPhone operating system, which contains several advances including bringing Apple’s IBooks to the IPhone and ITouch.

In theory, that should be good news to the company’s bookstore, which I’m thinking is off to not quite as great a start as they were hoping.

Here’s the thing. In his announcement yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said they had so far sold 450,000 IPads and that 600,000 books had been downloaded from IBooks. Let’s assume that none of those 600,000 are Winnie the Pooh, which comes free with the device.

That’s roughly 1.3 books per device, which I think should probably be higher. And given that IPads can download free books from Project Gutenberg, you sort of have to wonder how really significant that 600,000 number is — or at least wonder if it’s significant in the way Apple wants you to think it is.

Which brings me to the point of the headline — while adding IBooks to the IPhone and ITouch will certainly help Apple, every advance that makes their devices a better reader also helps Amazon with their Kindle.

See the thing that makes all those Kindle vs. IPad arguments invalid is the IPad is a device while the Kindle is a machine on its own as well as an app that runs on many machines including the IPad.

Apple’s software, meanwhile, runs on Apple devices — and while there are certainly a lot of them and while people are developing “enhanced” versions of books to run on those devices — the question remains whether it will be enough to steal a significant chunk of Amazon’s market or, actually, help Amazon grow.

On another note, I would like to remind the world that today is Books for NYC Schools Day. If you’re in New York, go. If you’re not, donate online.