A View from Erica Naone

Will the iPad Kill the Kindle?

The price and specs suggest that Apple’s device will offer stiff competition.

  • January 27, 2010

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.

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