iBooks: Kindle competition grows ever stronger

Posted on by Mike Evans

The case for buying books from Amazon just got stronger and the argument for iBooks got weaker. Choose the new 3G Kindle and you can download books anywhere in the world thanks to the lifetime, built-in 3G subscription. What's more, you can read those books on your Kindle, your iPad, iPhone, Android device, BlackBerry, Mac or PC - with Whispersync keeping all these devices in tune with one another at all times. 

Apple's iBooks, on the other hand, is increasingly looking like a one-trick pony. You can read your books on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, but there isn't yet an application for the Mac, let alone PC, BlackBerry and the rest. The iBooks user interface is better, in my opinion, but the Kindle eco-system is so much more versatile and satisfactory. Amazon also has the largest choice of books, with over 95% of best sellers available. The new generation Kindle, with its high-contrast screen and slicker operation, is a very compelling device, even if you already own an iPad and an iPhone. I am considering putting in an order for delivery on August 27 when the first models arrive. I already own a fair library of Kindle eBooks which, currently, I read alternately on iPhone and iPad, and I can see a Kindle fitting in.

About the only thing I would really miss with the Kindle is the lack of touch screen. Touchingly Amazon turn this into a virtue: "Kindle has an easy-to-use 5-way controller, enabling precise on-screen navigation for selecting text to highlight or looking up words. No on-screen fingerprints."  

NonethelessI will still miss the convenience of touching a word and looking up the definition.

Where does this leave Apple and iBooks? I believe iBooks will continue to thrive because of Apple's market position and the number of devices out there. But if they want to turn iBooks into iTunes they need to do some quick work to bring an iBooks reader application to other platforms. To complete effectively with Amazon, Apple could also do with a Kindle-style e-ink reader with built in (free) 3G.

While we're waiting for that, however, we have the almost perfect eco-system from Amazon. At the Kindle Store you have the biggest choice and, when you've bought your books, you have the widest choice of reading platforms. Kindle is truly a universal application. 

Amazon customers in the UK can look forward to a new local Kindle bookstore opening on August 27 to coincide with the arrival of the new devices. This will add yet another convincing argument for UK customers when choosing between iBooks and Kindle. The nature choice must be Kindle. 

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