Über Kindle: "Seven Ways it Beats the iPad"

Posted on by Mike Evans's article on the supremacy of the Kindle is all logical stuff and I agree with much of it. The Kindle is lighter and smaller than the iPad; the e-ink display is easier on the eyes; it's possible to read in bright sunlight; it's less of a loss if stolen; the battery lasts a month; it has free 3G connectivity; it's much less expensive to purchase. You can put up a good case for all of these benefits. But they miss the point, because the iPad is not a direct competitor to the Kindle. 

The iPad is a computer and upwards of five million have walked off the shelves in three months. The Kindle is an excellent but it's a dedicated e-book reader that has been around for several years and is rumoured to have sold under one million in all that time. Amazon do not release sales figures, so we can't be sure. People buy the iPad because they want it for web browsing, games, productivity apps, not primarily because they want to read books. This is a bonus for most owners. Yet I have no doubt that with millions of buyers trying ebooks for the first time, the market in downloads is growing exponentially. Amazon alone, with the Kindle, could not have achieved this. 

In any case, Amazon is a retailer, primarily a retailer of books. The Kindle was a useful way to get into the ebook market; and they have further cemented their market position by producing free applications for PC, Mac, iOS4, Android and BlackBerry platforms. They can afford not to be worried too much whether the Kindle reader succeeds or fails. Whatever happens, the Kindle Store will sail on.

As says, however, most avid readers will be attracted to the Kindle, particularly when they know they can read the same books on lots of different platforms. Many will also own an iPad or an iPhone. Equally, most iPad owners will be very happy reading books on their device despite the few perceived shortcomings. Make no mistake, the iPad makes a superb book reader, but the new Kindle offers a good alternative. It is certainly lighter (weight being my main gripe against the iPad) and I feel sure lots of iPad owners will buy a Kindle as an alternative. I've already ordered mine and it will be interesting to see how much use I make of it. 

We shouldn't forget, though, that the two devices are not competitors.

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