It’s not yet clear whether the iPad will live up to the breathless excitement that surrounded its launch. But, from the specs alone, it clearly spells trouble for dedicated e-readers, particularly Amazon’s larger version of the Kindle.
The Kindle DX is the same size as the iPad. It has a black and white E-Ink screen, four gigabytes of internal storage, 3G access and costs $489. Meanwhile, the cheapest version of the iPad has a full-color touch screen, a powerful processor and graphics chip, 16 gigabytes of flash storage, Wi-Fi and sells for $499.
The cheaper iPad might not have 3G or the same battery life as the Kindle DX (up to four days), but on every other count it wins. It has both a gorgeous screen and vastly more functionality. And, while Amazon has established an excellent, easy way to buy books, iTunes, which already has some 125 million customers, will give it a run for its money.
During today’s launch, Apple played down its move into the e-reader market–the iBooks demo was buried in-between game demonstrations and a long explanation of the company’s productivity software. But the iPad price point means that those considering a dedicated e-reader will be sorely tempted by an iPad. In addition, because an iTunes account can be used to purchase e-books, Apple stands to capture a large audience of users readers who want to read a few e-books but would never buy a dedicated device.
The iBooks app also has access to the full catalogs of five major publishers: Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette Book Group. It also uses the standard ePub format, meaning that books purchased on this device will be compatible with other readers.