In Steve Jobs’ biography, he repeatedly stressed the importance of creating fewer, top of the line products, rather than a slew of mediocre ones. Apple has always thrived on branding and staying ahead of the game.
It surprised me that the iPad Mini is not only real, but it is named exactly what rumors called it. Is Apple getting too predictable? Now we have a big variety of sizes for tablets and smartphones in the Apple lineup. Most people can reconcile having both an iPad and an iPhone, but can you do that for the iPad Mini and the iPhone?
I don’t see it taking the hold of the 7″ tablet market like the original 10″ iPad currently has on the larger tablet market. Obviously, price is one factor. The iPad mini is $329, whereas the Kindle Fire HD, Nook Tablet, and Nexus 7 are all $199. So, they will attract different types of consumers.
For thee moment, I don’t think the Kindle Fire HD has too much to worry about from that end. The Nexus 7 is proving to be a solid competitor, but competition is good because it make the devices strive to get better and better with each generation.
It used to be that the major tech giants excelled in different areas. Google held the monopoly on search engines, Amazon was the pioneer for ebooks, Microsoft reigned over the PC market, and Apple took control over computers, and later music.
Now, they’re all trying to one up each other by creating competing products. This can be quite overwhelming for the consumer! Maybe it is best to just let them duul it out, and see what the winners are.
As far as choices go, longevity is a good thing to consider. The Kindle Fire is in its second generation, and has ironed out some issues that the first generation had. The new Kindle Fire family includes better display, better designed hardware, and a camera. Amazon also has a good sized marketplace with a free app every day.
For the 10″ inch tablets, the iPad still dominates that market, and has had a couple of years to improve. Apple of course has a huge appstore, and includes a number of business apps.
Only time will tell what the winners will be in the tablet market. It is sure to be a wild ride.
The first major change in eBook pricing to come about since the launch of the iPad is at hand. The U.S. Department of Justice has already negotiated settlements with three of the six major publishing houses implicated in a DOJ price fixing investigation only shortly after the filing of the lawsuit. Kindle owners can expect to see an almost immediate drop in many eBook prices, once the court has had a chance to approve the settlement terms. Amazon has already declared this a big win for consumers and announced plans to drop prices on affected titles.
For those who have not been keeping track, the early days of the Kindle brought significantly lower eBook prices than we are now used to. This was the result of Amazon being able to buy their stock wholesale and price things as low as they wanted from there. Publishers were rather unhappy with this arrangement since it meant that customers might well become used to seeing affordable prices on their reading material and cause paper copies of books to lose perceived value.
When Steve Jobs approached the Big 6 publishers with the idea of moving to the Agency Model, wherein publishers would set prices and retailers get a fixed percentage for each unit sold, they jumped on it. As soon as the iBooks store opened, Kindle Edition prices began to rise. There was some drama when Amazon attempted to hold out in protest and pull titles from their store, but without those publishers it is hard to operate a major bookstore.
Since then, prices have remained high and those involved in the Agency Model arrangement have come under investigation in both the US and EU. The biggest being raised by the DOJ, aside from alleged secret meetings and clandestine correspondence between heads of supposedly competing publishers in the days leading up to implementing the Agency Model, is the Most Favored Nation Clause. Apple managed to get this introduced in their agreement with every publisher.
Typically, a MFN is put in place to prevent favoritism from allowing a wholesaler to sell more cheaply to another retailer at a lower price. In this case, since publishers were setting the price, the DOJ is arguing that it was meant to “protect Apple from having to compete on price at all, while still maintaining Apple’s 30 percent margin.”
The result of all this has been artificially inflated eBook prices meant to turn customers away from things like the Kindle. That last point is more fact than opinion, as any look at publisher comments regarding the “troublesome” convenience of eBook borrowing at libraries that has gone along with Penguin dropping out of the library system altogether.
So far we know of settlements with HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster. These will prevent use of the Agency Model for a number of years and create various other consumer protections. Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin are all still denying wrongdoing at the moment, but it remains to be seen how well they can hold out. Even if all three remaining defendents get off somehow, Kindle pricing will be completely altered for the indefinite future. The Agency Model could only be forced on Amazon through solidarity across every major player in the publishing industry. With that gone thanks to these settlements, things can’t help but improve.
Not much is known at this time about what options are being discussed by the publishers under attack by the Justice Department. We do have good information that there are settlement options on the table and that the Agency Model pricing model currently to blame for high Kindle Edition eBook prices will be on the chopping block regardless.
Reports from unnamed informants close to the matter have indicated that there is reason to expect a settlement within the next several weeks. Neither Apple nor the publishers have responded to any requests for comment at this time. The Justice Dept declined to say anything.
Whether this is a sign of consensus among the defendants or merely that one or two are feeling the pressure and wanting to end what they see as a losing battle should not matter much in terms of the outcome. In the event of one publisher involved in the price fixing scheme reaching a settlement, the terms would undoubtedly involve release of evidence necessary for ensuring a successful prosecution of the rest.
Basically, assuming the news is true, this means that the end of the Agency Model is at hand and that the Kindle has made it through possibly the most harmful barrier to eReader adoption without so far becoming irrelevant. A return to the wholesale model, even temporarily, will mean more affordable reading material for Kindle owners. This in turn should spur sales of the eReading line. Amazon’s willingness to take a loss on bestsellers to promote their product line is what game them over 90% of the eReading market before the Agency Model was imposed and there is no reason to see this practice changing overly much if the Agency Model is destroyed.
The big question will be what comes next. Settlement or unfavorable ruling aside, publishers are not going to give up on their position that readers have no right to expect inexpensive books. It is incredibly unlikely that they will all pull out of Amazon in reaction to this, but they’re going to have to find some new way to prevent Kindle customers from being too happy with digital books.
The case at hand is all about how the defendants collaborated to impose the Agency Model on Amazon. The means to achieve this goal is in question, not the model itself. Depending on the terms of the settlement, publishers could be permitted to go back to it in time. They could also turn to something even more unpleasant for potential customers. It is hard to tell at the moment.
In the short term, the clear winners will be customers. Prices on eBooks should drop abruptly, especially in the Kindle Store, following official announcement of the deal being made. In reality, expectations may need to change with regard to how profitable a new bestseller should be per unit sold. Big 6 publishers will be forced to come to terms with this. Beyond the immediate benefits to Kindle customers there is little that can be asserted reliably about the effects of this situation. It will be interesting to see how the situation evolves. Any thoughts or predictions?
After months of speculation and rumor about Amazon and Apple going head to head in an all-out Kindle Fire vs iPad 3 (or Mini, or HD) confrontation, we finally have all of the information we’ve been waiting for and it turns out that Apple isn’t addressing their “competition” in any significant way. This should really surprise nobody given the different user bases being served, but it is worth taking a look at what the new iPad can do and how well it does for the price.
The big distinguishing feature of the iPad is that, unlike the Kindle Fire, it is in many ways a computer alternative. There is little that you can’t do on one, aside from truly hardware intensive tasks, if you are motivated enough to use the touch screen. The newest iteration of the hardware line is no exception and does a fair amount to improve the overall experience even further. New features include the move to a Retina Display like that of the iPhone 4, a new A5X Dual Core Processor, one 5 Megapixel camera situated on the rear of the device, Full 1080p HD video recording, 4G LTE connectivity through both AT&T and Verizon, and dictation capabilities. A fair list that expands on what the iPad 2 already did well.
What does this mean for the Kindle Fire’s future? Honestly, practically nothing. This was not, contrary to rumors, a release that intended to kill the Kindle. As any side by side comparison has long since proved, the iPad already had a larger screen, cameras, a microphone, cellular connectivity, and more processing power. If no other factors were considered besides simple hardware performance then Apple wins the iPad vs Kindle Fire matchup every time. The fact that Apple couldn’t help but be aware of this only serves to illustrate that their widening the gap in hardware performance was directed elsewhere; most likely at heading off Microsoft by increasing momentum before the first Windows 8 Tablets start hitting stores later this year.
The biggest factor is still going to be the price for most consumers. For all its impressive power, the iPad 3 still runs at least $499 for the cheapest model with no 4G connection. Even the iPad 2, the cheapest version of which has been kept on at least temporarily at a discount to consumers, is twice the price of the Kindle Fire at $399. None of the major advantages that the Kindle offers in terms of size, weight, or affordability have been addressed. While you can’t say that any of those is universally acknowledged as the most important factor in tablet purchasing (the iPad is not suffering a bit by most accounts, nor does anything from Amazon seem to indicate that they were expected to be by now), they are the things that people take into account when deciding on a new device purchase. For the moment, these remain two completely different types of tablet. The iPad works as a functional PC alternative while the Kindle Fire is all about the consumption. The next big chance to change the equation won’t be until the details are announced for the upcoming Kindle Fire 2.
I am writing this on the eve of the launch of the next generation iPad. So speculations on what new features the iPad 3 will offer and what it means for tablet competition is definitely on my mind. As anyone who keeps up with tech news knows, the rumors get pretty wild in the days leading up to big announcements like these.
Aside from the new launch, there are two speculations that might have a more direct implication for the Kindle Fire. The first is the possibility of a 7.85 inch iPad Mini. Honestly, I can’t really see this fitting into the scope of Apple’s products. I could be wrong, but right now, there is a big enough gulf between the iPad 2 and the iPhone that consumers can reconcile having both. They serve different functions.
An iPad Mini would blur the lines a bit and give consumers less of a reason to have both. So it would cause internal competition for Apple. However, it would add some worthy competition to the smaller tablet market.
The other option is a budget version of the iPad 2. This assumption seems more viable because Apple has done this in the past with the iPhone, and has had good success with it. This would be an 8GB version as opposed to 16 or 32GB.
It depends on how much cheaper the iPad 2 is, but this is what could really give the Kindle Fire a run for its money. Right now, Amazon’s bestselling tablet’s biggest asset is that it packs a lot of features for a rock bottom price. Competitors certainly recognize that. Just look at the recent price drop on the Nook Tablet.
In the next few years, I would love to see a tablet emerge that has computing power comparable to the PC. Apple has that ability to to that with the iPad, but isn’t quite there yet. That leaves room for the smaller tablets to serve consumers who want something more portable, inexpensive and multipurpose without too much processing power.
So, I don’t really think the iPad 3 will have too much effect on the Kindle Fire competition wise. It serves a different market. The thing to watch will be the introduction of either a budget iPad or a less probable iPad Mini. So, all we can do at this point is sit back and see what happens.
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has sold e-books in the Kindle Store using its own formatting style ever since the Kindle was introduced in 2007.
That will change next year when a new program is launched called Amazon Lives. This program will debut with biographies that will be available in multiple formats as well as places outside of the Kindle Store.
Amazon has been stepping out into a lot of new markets lately. The online retailer is planning to open a boutique in Seattle to sell the Kindle and other products. The company that started the online buying revolution will now have a tangible, brick and mortar presence.
We’ve also seen Amazon challenge Netflix with free movie streaming for Prime members, and take a stab at Apple’s iPad consumer market with the Kindle Fire.
Now with Amazon Lives, the line blurs as Kindle e-books lose their exclusive formatting identity. Amazon Lives is just starting out with biographies, but I doubt it will take too long to branch out into other genres. Barnes & Noble and Books a Million recently stated that they would not sell Amazon books in their stores, but the launch of this new program might affect that sales strategy.
The technology market in general involves a lot of cat and mouse type competition. I’ve seen this ramp up a lot with the entrance of e-readers and tablets. Competition is healthy in most respects because it makes the products better. Take the Kindle Touch for example. This version followed suit after other e-readers started adopting touch screen technology. However, if a company wants to try to take over so many different areas of the market, then they risk losing quality in their products.
So my hope is that Kindle e-books will maintain their good reputation while serving the broadest audience possible as they venture into the new realm of non exclusivity.
If you are familiar with Apple’s PR strategy, you’ll recognize the hype that goes along with each potential new product release. Speculations fly while Apple stays tight lipped until the product is launched.
That trend continues with the much anticipated release of the next generation iPad. March 29 seems to be the latest “magic date” for the release of the iPad 3. This goes along with the usual spring release date of the highly sought after tablet. So I wouldn’t be surprised if this release date was at least close to the actual one.
So, what will this mean for the Kindle Fire? In the beginning, I don’t see it being affected too much because it seems to appeal to a different market than the iPad. A big reason for that is the price. The iPad is also geared more towards heavy duty computing, and includes a camera and bluetooth compatibility. The Kindle Fire is great for browsing the internet, videos, reading and games. It is just a matter of determining what you will use the tablet for and what you want it to do.
Apple has been known for top quality devices without too much cap on price. Despite the $500 price tag on the iPad, consumers know they are going to get a top notch product. Amazon designs the cheapest device they can that is still functional so that it can reach out to the biggest number of users possible. I don’t see the price of the iPad 3 dropping a whole lot, at least not anywhere near the price of the Fire.
The Kindle Fire is the second best selling tablet after the iPad, and has been the only tablet to show a margin of success comparable to the Apple tablet, but the iPad’s sales hit record numbers in recent months. So that just proves the point that both can exist and do extremely well.
Let’s take a look at a longer term effects. Now that so many consumers own a tablet, they will want to move up in features and quality. Amazon will need to continue to try to integrate more features at the lowest cost for the Kindle Fire to show strong sales figures. Another key factor is maintaining a strong Android Marketplace. So, once Amazon achieves that, then they can release a second generation Kindle Fire.
This is all speculation base on the 10″ iPad. If the rumored iPad Mini shows up, then Amazon will really need to get into gear to present a Kindle Fire version that can compete with it.
Until I see what the new iPad will look like and the price, it is hard to tell exactly how it will affect the status of the Kindle Fire. So, more concrete observations to come after March 29, or whenever the official release date is. Stay tuned.
Apple launched a new e-textbook service last week that is claiming to “revolutionize the textbook industry.” With major partners as McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton-Mifflin on board, the service is poised to offer a robust collection of e-textbooks in the updated iBook store. In addition to purchasing textbooks educators can create their own textbooks using iBook Author. The lure of lighter backpacks is a pretty good one.
My initial question is, how are schools going to be able to afford an iPad for every student? Will this be an expense put on parents? If Amazon starts a competing service with the Kindle Fire, price would not be as much of an issue. The Kindle Fire is less than half the price of an iPad 2.
Prior attempts at using the Kindle for textbooks have been somewhat successful with a few schools here and there using it for pilot programs. There were also attempts at using the Kindle DX to hold college textbooks because it has a bigger screen. Despite positive reviews on the programs, they never really took off.
Right now, the new e-textbook service seems to be focusing on the K-12 market with high school textbooks going for $14.99 or less. What about college textbooks? They’re the ones that students have to fork over the money for themselves. They can also be expensive. Professors have a lot more leeway on what they can teach so they will probably benefit more from iBook Author than K-12 teachers will.
I think that e-textbooks are going to play a larger role in the future, but I don’t see it taking off just yet. Aside from the price still being steep for the iPad, there is still a learning curve and adjustment period for both teachers and students. Tablets are already being used as valuable tools in education through apps. It just takes time figuring out how to utilize them the most effectively.
Will Amazon launch an e-textbook service to compete with Apple, or will it continue to appeal to the “masses” with the vast collection of books available in the Kindle Store? I would say the latter for now, because Amazon’s strategy is to reach out to everyone, not a niche market like Apple does. As e-textbooks become more mainstream and in higher demand, it will be more in Amazon’s best interest to provide them for the Kindle platform.
After reporting less than stellar stock returns, Barnes & Noble is seriously considering spinning off, or even selling its expensive, but popular Nook business to allow the Nook to ramp up its competition with Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad.
Right now, the tech world is weighing three options with the pros and cons of each. This article does a good job of breaking all of it down. Barnes & Noble can keep an active role in the business as it is now, which is not likely, it can take a backseat, yet still hold the reigns, or it can sell the business entirely.
Sales of all Nook e-readers combined were up 70% during the 2011 holiday shopping season, compared to a mere 2.5% growth of regular book sales. That definitely goes to show that something needs to change, or the retailer will end up with the same fate as Borders, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year.
I think that Barnes & Noble’s best bet would be to stay invested somewhat in the business because the e-book is the way of the future. Despite the lackluster reception of the Nook Touch, the Nook Color and the Nook Tablet have been doing very well. I am not saying that print is dying out by any means, but e-books are definitely going to take an increasingly larger role over the next few years. Consumers are already flocking to Amazon for both print and e-books because the prices are better. So, the Nook would be a lifeline in case the print side of the business suffers.
Barnes & Noble recognizes that there is work to do to catch up with the Kindle, so the competition is going to get much more intense if the Nook gets more attention via a spinoff or separate company.
It will be interesting to see what this potential new development means for the Kindle. Amazon reported record breaking Kindle sales in 2011 because of the much anticipated Kindle Fire and by offering the prices to beat, All three members of the Kindle Family took the top selling spots on Amazon. The Kindle will most likely remain firmly on top of the e-reader market for the time being.
Recent reports indicate that later this month we can expect to see Apple host a press conference related to, of all things, eBooks. After news that the Kindle Fire has had a noticeable impact on iPad sales this past quarter, clearly something has to be done. This is not official as of yet, but multiple sources in positions to be aware of such plans have passed along the same information. While we have no way as of yet to know for sure where this will lead, the most common rumors seem to point to Apple’s launching of a digital self publishing platform to compete with the Kindle Direct Publishing program.
In reality, such a move on Apple’s part would be quite surprising. In addition to the fact that simply matching the competition seems to offer far less reward than the effort would be worth given that the iBooks store has failed to really take off so far anyway, Apple is already making about as much on each book sold to owners of their devices as they would be likely to make off a program competitive enough to draw in new authors. Keeping in mind the fact that anybody publishing through Amazon’s KDP program, or even Barnes & Noble’s slightly less popular PubIt, will already be available to iOS users, the only real motivation for Apple here would be to draw authors into an exclusive arrangement in some way to enhance the iBooks selection. Amazon has already begun a similar effort tied into their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, so this would not necessarily be a shocking move, but there is little reason to suspect that Apple is desperate to suddenly push into the eBook market in a major way.
Since we can be fairly certain that whatever the announcement is about will be related to publishing in some way, however, there are a few other possibilities. Textbook rental is one of the more likely possibilities. While Amazon’s new Kindle Format 8 provides some more robust formatting options to publishers and the Kindle Fire obviously handles the demands of textbooks more easily than E INK reading devices, so far the Kindle Textbook Rental program has failed to draw much attention. Given the iPad’s larger screen and Apple’s strong presence on college campuses, it would make sense for them to jump to fill in this gap in the market before anybody else beats them to it.
It is also possible that this has something to do with the ongoing class action lawsuits against Apple and the Big 6 publishers over price fixing and the imposition of the Agency Model around the time the iPad was released. In the past month the situation has become quite a bit more intense, with the US Justice Department joining in and at least 15 ongoing suits. It would seem unlikely that the company would want to comment on an ongoing legal battle, but given claims of detailed inside information on the part of certain plaintiffs there is always the chance that preemptive spin on an anticipated settlement attempt might be in order.
The one thing everybody agrees on is that this will not be a hardware announcement. While there is still speculation with varying degrees of believability about a smaller iPad meant to compete with the Kindle Fire, that will have to wait until later. For now, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect.
Several weeks back, speculation rose about the possibility for Amazon’s following in the footsteps of Apple with a Siri-like product of their own for the Kindle Fire. Siri, for those who aren’t aware, is a virtual digital assistant for the iPhone. It allows users to conversationally ask questions and make requests that the software will try to accommodate. For the most part it does an impressive job and when Siri can’t cope it will come up with a variety of witty or whimsical responses tailored to the user input.
The cause for speculation with regard to Amazon stems from their acquisition of Yap, a voice to text company whose specialty is transcribing voicemail. While Amazon wasn’t mentioned by name in the acquisition, the company that Yap merged with lists its headquarters at an Amazon building. There are a few reasons to make a move like this, of course, but it is fairly clear that the idea of copying Apple’s efforts was not one of them.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that Yap is absolutely nothing like Siri. Yes they both involve accurately pulling information out of the spoken word, but that is as far as it goes. Siri is an attempt at artificial intelligence that will try to understand user intent by pulling key words and phrases out of what it hears. Yap’s specialty is simply putting words on “paper”, so to speak, in a cheap and fast manner. Cloud computing is Amazon’s new big thing, of course, so the fact that Yap does its work mechanically on the cloud servers also fits in well with their philosophy.
What this could be a precursor to is an Kindle Fire type of smartphone. While Amazon has not yet announced any official plans to add such a device to their growing selection of hardware, it’s a possibility. The Yap software would be helpful for both its original voicemail applications as well as for voice commands, in this case. The voice command idea in general would likely go over well on future Kindle Tablets, but since the only mic we’ve seen in a Kindle has been the disabled one inside every Kindle 3 it might actually be a bit surprising. There is also the chance that this was simply a matter of acquiring Intellectual Property to guard against lawsuits and license to other companies.
Quite possibly my favorite potential use for this would be on demand transcription of audio files. This would come in handy for practically anybody who regularly needs to deal with presentations or meetings, especially in business environments that require fast turnaround on their reference material. That might be a long shot, though.
Regardless of how Amazon decides to actually make use of the Yap acquisition, there’s just no chance it will be as a Siri clone. The Kindle Fire is great at what it does, but it lacks the hardware to make a Siri possible. Even if that hardware were present, the speech to text component of such a feature would be only a small part of a huge endeavor. It would be great to have that kind of capability, but it’s overoptimistic for the foreseeable future.
As many of you know, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has its own Android based app store that offers a free app every day. The Kindle Fire is set to release on November 15 with a huge selection of popular apps including Pandora, Netflix, Facebook, and games from top gaming companies including Electronic Arts, PopCap and more.
Amazon is set to go with everyone’s favorite apps right out of the gate. That’s pretty impressive considering how long it took the iPad to get a Facebook app. But, in Amazon’s case, a precedent has been set in the android market. Whereas the iPad was the first to enter the tablet market, and is the only tablet using Apple’s app store.
EA and PopCap are known for high quality games. A few favorites include Scrabble, Tetris, and Peggle. Tetris has been a huge hit since the beginning of gaming systems. Rovio is also on board, and they’re the makers of the hit game Angry Birds. What is a tablet without Angry Birds?
Netflix and Pandora are other top apps that are available across tablet and smartphone platforms, so they are a natural addition to the Kindle Fire collection. Amazon also has its own video streaming library for Amazon Prime members set to rival Netflix. Pandora and Rhapsody are the major players in music apps.
As far as apps go, one niche that Apple has a good hold on is Accessibility. There are apps for the iPad that serve as decent and much cheaper alternatives to assistive technology. I just downloaded a magnfying glass and a recorder recently. There are also caption services, and so much more. I haven’t seen as much of this on Android systems, or on the Kindle in general. It would be great to see apps that help people with vision, hearing, mobility, and learning disabilities. Just another way to heat up the competition against Apple.
For more information on what popular apps will be available on the Kindle Fire, check out the latest Amazon press release.
Could Apple be feeling a bit threatened by the arrival of the impressively popular Kindle Fire? If certain rumors coming out of Taiwan are true, then the answer seems to be “Yes”.
The most recent set of rumors, which as always should be taken with a grain of salt, indicate that Apple has been looking at samples of 7.85″ screens. Presumably this would be an effort to design something along the lines of a budget iPad to compete with the sudden wave of affordably priced iPad alternatives hitting the market. Such a device would have the advantage of Apple’s excellent reputation and superior presence in the tablet market while also allowing purchase by customers who aren’t quite ready to drop $500+ for their newest piece of narrowly useful electronics.
This would not exactly fit with prior declarations from Apple regarding the usefulness of a 7″ tablet, of course. Steve Jobs came out emphatically against such devices, declaring that extensive testing had shown anything smaller than the iPad to deliver a sub-par user experience when using fingers as pointing devices. This doesn’t rule a smaller iPad out entirely, though. One, with the passing of Steve Jobs his company will naturally have to choose their own course. If the market demands smaller, more affordable tablets then there is every reason to believe that Apple will rise to the challenge. Two, Apple does have some history of declaring things pointless or unfeasible right up until the moment they feel they are in a position to do those very things. Whether this is due to clever PR trying to throw off the competition or simply Apple’s desire to give their customers what they want regardless of what seems to be a smart move at first is open to interpretation.
Clearly nothing is set in stone yet. At best, somebody at Apple thinks that the idea of a smaller iPad is something that should be explored to some extent. As far as anybody knows, orders have not been placed and plans have not been made. We have more substantial speculative information floating around about the iPad 3 than this, by a fair margin. Even if it did happen, would it really be able to outshine the competition anymore?
A smaller iPad competing with the Kindle Fire would almost certainly come in at $250-300 and be unavailable until at least mid-2012. Where Amazon is pushing media, Apple is making most of their profit on the hardware end and would have to scale back the power of their device accordingly, likely eliminating a great deal of their edge along those lines. On top of that, the Kindle Fire will have had time to gain a following. Assuming that the real value is in the content that a tablet has access to, Amazon is certainly offering enough to keep their users happy and the low price is clearly attractive.
We’ll see what happens in the months to come, but I question the potential for a move like this. Apple already controls the performance tablet market and would be better off without a disappointment on the budget tablet end of things.
Fascinated as we are by the platform here, Kindle users are far from the only group to be inconvenienced by Apple’s in-app purchasing guideline enforcement. Apple built the popularity of their iPads on the availability and functionality of apps being developed by other parties, only to change their minds once an ownership base was established. Certainly totally within their rights to do, but more than a little unpleasant for both the app developers and users who are accustomed to better treatment. Amazon has retaliated by releasing the Kindle Cloud Reader, which completely bypasses the iPad’s App Store, and they aren’t the only ones looking at the options.
Kobo, the leading international Kindle competition, has announced plans to follow in Amazon’s footsteps with an HTML5 Reading app of their own. When it is complete, users should be able to read their Kobo purchases on any device with a web browser, effectively bypassing Apple’s restrictions. You should even be able to save the app to your iOS device Home page for seamless integration. As with the Kindle Cloud Reader, users will be able to sync their collections for offline browsing, which addresses the largest possible shortcoming of a browser-based solution to the problem.
The only major problem with apps like these is the loss of Apple App Store exposure. To effectively bypass Apple’s fees it is important to already have a substantial user base, since random discovery is far less likely. Existing Kobo customers will have little problem, and will likely welcome the chance to make use of the store again without the price increases that would have been necessary to profitably continue operation within Apple’s guidelines. New users will almost certainly be harder to come by. We can expect to see continued support for the Kobo iOS app as a result, for exposure’s sake if nothing else.
This is not the only obstacle that Kobo has had to face recently. With the end of Borders, their US distribution partner, exposure will be harder to come by in the current largest eBook market. Although they remained separate companies, Borders was directly linked to the Kobo eReader in the minds of consumers for having been the first ones to bring to to the US. Regaining that kind of presence will be a slow process.
Outside the US, the Kobo Store is reported to have perhaps the best selection of eBooks currently available. Due to ongoing licensing right disputes, the Kindle Store is not yet always able to consistently provide the same level of service that Kobo has managed to over such a large number of markets. The release of this HTML5 app should do them a great deal of good in expanding their lead, given the number of Tablet PCs hitting the market recently. This may allow readers to enjoy the service even in countries where localized selections are not currently available and shipping the Kobo eReader itself is problematic.
We can expect the official release of the new Kobo app later this year.
For those who have been paying attention, it doesn’t come as much of a shock to hear that people are unhappy about the rise in price of Kindle eBooks caused by the Agency Model pricing forced on Amazon by the largest publishing houses in the business. Apple came out with iBooks as a means of adding value to the iPad’s initial launch, and in doing so arranged things to prevent Amazon from having an advantage. They went to the publishers, worked out an industry-wide deal, and ended the era of the affordably priced eBook. Now, finally, somebody is calling them on it.
The basis for the suit is a number of early indications that Apple knew ahead of time that all of the major publishers would be turning on Amazon at the same time. A much publicized Wall Street Journal article from early 2010 had Steve Jobs clearly aware of the impending changes and certain not only of his company’s ability to price match but of the publishers’ willingness to boycott Amazon in order to change the state of the market. While Amazon did make every attempt to keep the Kindle Store free of such manipulation and price hiking, in the end each publisher is the controller of its own works and they were forced to concede defeat in order to keep the content available to Kindle readers.
The suit charges Apple and the five largest publishing companies with antitrust violations, among other things, and would seek to represent anybody who has purchased an eBook since the prices jumped over 30% practically overnight last year. If successful, the Agency Model would be completely overturned, as would the arrangements currently in place preventing price discrepancies between retailers.
There is every reason to believe that this has at least a chance of success. It is not even the first legal obstacle that publishers have faced since they turned on the Kindle. In 2010 both Amazon and Apple were brought to talks with the Attorney General of Connecticut, who had concerns that the abrupt change would lead to a situation where competition between companies would be impossible. Such anti-competitive behavior would of course be a dangerous thing to be involved in, but the companies being looked at at the time were clearly not colluding. This time, looking at Apple and the publishers, it might not pass quite so easily.
Though it will be months, at best, before there is even an indication of which way this is likely to turn out, it is possible that there will be some change in the meantime. eBooks are the only area where the publishing industry seems to be growing lately, and the Kindle platform is the driving force behind eBook sales in the US. Anything that publishers can do to improve sales will be to their advantage, and they have shown at least some small interest in the potential from reduced pricing. Will it be enough to change the face of eBook publishing without legal intervention? Time will tell. It seems inevitable that publishers will come to their senses eventually and drive their numbers up any way that works, though, and the success of the lawsuit is still just speculation.
In recent news, Apple has decided to start thoroughly enforcing their in-app purchasing rules after a bit of a delay. While this is inconvenient for Kindle users, Nook users, and pretty much everybody who isn’t Apple, perhaps the most uniquely affected portion of the eBook marketplace will be the fans of Nook Kids for iPad app. Its narrow audience and specific requirements definitely make it a special case.
If you think about the strengths of the iPad, or tablets in general so far, when it comes to eReading, the biggest factor in favor is the color screen. Not much good for the purpose if you read a lot of bestsellers, classic literature, poetry, or anything along those lines, but absolutely essential for optimal viewing of kids’ books among other things. Right now, the Nook is pretty much the only eBook line handling children’s books in a thorough fashion. One of the things you’ll see on all their advertisements is that they have the “largest collection of kids’ books all in one place”, and that even seems to hold up pretty well.
Now, if you make the assumption that few parents are grabbing their children tablets of their very own, which I think is a fair assumption given the average prices and general fragility of the gadget compared to the toys they might be used to, the change becomes particularly inconvenient. Basically, if my hypothetical child were to have their own Tablet PC or Kindle, it would be in my best interest to not allow them any way to make purchases on the device itself. Whether this is accomplished via parental controls or simple lack of functionality doesn’t matter much. On the same device that I keep around primarily for my own use, that I simply happen to pull out during shared reading time, the lack of functionality is an infuriating factor. Yes, browser-based purchasing is still simple enough to use, but it adds enough steps to the process of acquiring a book that will likely only take a small amount of time per reading anyway that it renders impulse buying less attractive.
This was Apple’s plan, of course. Force people to either give Apple a 30% cut of every sale or lose a large portion of their revenue entirely. When nobody else is offering the same service, it won’t necessarily kill the business, but I would expect interest among iPad owners to fall off to a certain degree. A big setback in the short term that may allow competition to rise up if Barnes & Noble can’t get a better handle on the situation. Personally, I would anticipate seeing Nook Kids for Android apps any time now. The tablet market is growing noticeably, and it is only a matter of time before something pops up that can compete with the iPad. Right now that looks like an Android Tablet. Maybe it will be the Kindle Tablet, maybe not, but as far as the OS choice goes, there isn’t a whole lot else going on right now for portable devices.
So, one way to stop the e-ink vs. LCD war is to put both of them in one device. Apparently, Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) has such a device in the works.
This is one of those things I’m going to have to actually see to grasp exactly how this can be done. Comparing a Kindle e-ink display and an iPhone’s LCD display is like comparing apples to oranges. They are so different. They each have different functions and the Kindle is designed just for reading. Sometimes it is good to escape internet and games, and just read.
From what I understand, the user will be able to switch between the iPhone 4 display and an e-ink display depending on their needs. So, in theory, you could use the Kindle Application on your iPhone, and it would be more Kindle like than than the current version that is on the iPhone. If you can use that application, it would still allow you to download and purchase books from the Kindle Store.
So, could this development kill the Kindle if it went into production? Probably not. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) could either make a rival Kindle device, or they can focus on the Kindle software platform and e-book sales. E-book sales are getting better and better all the time. Especially with authors writing books exclusively for the e-book platform. Another key factor is cost. Many people can’t afford an iPad yet. Even an iPhone costs more than the Kindle does.
There’s been talk of the potential for Kindle vs iPad conflict since months before the latter device was ever actually unleashed on the public. While I do believe that there was some degree of overlap between them for certain customers, the larger trend appears to have involved just grabbing both, if you’re going to get an iPad anyway. The Kindle is almost universally held to be the superior eReader, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the versatility of the iPad in any other way. Apparently Apple may have decided that this situation is less than satisfactory?
Recent reports of an Apple patent just recently made public have been causing a great deal of speculation about the future of this conflict. The proposed display would contain a standard(LCD or OLED) video layer underneath a form of electronic paper(similar to the Kindle’s E Ink display), with a touch interface on top. Perhaps the most interesting part of the proposition is that since the layers would be independent of each other and software controlled, it would be possible to operate both in tandem, in theory, to create an environment extremely conducive to web browsing and video-enhanced eBook reading without sacrificing the readability of the text itself. Thinking this through, however, I’m left wondering if it really addresses the shortcomings of the existing Apple tablet offerings with regard to reading.
I’m going to make the assumption that the electronic paper display that is noted in the patent’s design is somehow transparent when not in use. I’m sure that the technology for that is available, I was just still under the impression that it was not really ready yet. This would give the proposed design an “advantage” that many Kindle naysayers have been looking for for a long time: An E Ink-like screen with a back light. Of course, this also removes a major component of the readability improvement that is enjoyed with current eReaders. Even assuming that you could completely turn off the back light any time you wanted to, and I would definitely assume that this is an intended feature that nobody would think of leaving out, you would be left with text hovering on a transparent plane over a recessed background. Intuitively this seems awkward somehow.
My guess would be that this is meant more as a power-saving measure on potential future tablets than as a serious delving into eReading as a direct Kindle competitor. Think about an iPad with a week’s worth of battery life now that the screen doesn’t need to refresh large sections regularly unless the user demands it. That would be an impressive selling point. This would also address, though to what degree would depend on proper implementation, the complaints of readability in direct sunlight that the iPad has met with.
It remains to be seen what will actually happen, of course, and I’ve only touched on a handful of possibilities. For all I know, this could end up being an offshoot of the iPhone, a competitor for the Nook Color, or the greatest thing ever to happen to the eReading world. A patent just isn’t enough to go off of if you want definitive. Any move away from standard LCDs in portable devices with batteries is always going to get the benefit of the doubt from me, though.
Kindle 3 vs Apple iPad
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) recently released a commercial that pokes fun at the iPad. The commercial features a nerdy looking iPad user struggling to read under direct sunlight, and a bikini clad Kindle user who has no trouble reading at all. The Kindle doesn’t have backlighting, and is designed for easy reading under direct sunlight. The Kindle 3′s sharper e-ink display makes the reading experience even better.
The iPad is a computer. Its high resolution display renders it difficult to read under bright conditions, just like any other laptop. When it is dark, the opposite is true. When I tried the iPad, I immediately noticed how bright the screen was, and can definitely see how it can lead to an uncomfortable reading experience.
The Kindle user in the commercial remarked that the Kindle was only $139, which was less than her sunglasses. Amazing how something like sunglasses cost more than the Kindle, which seems a lot more useful.
Amazon is definitely getting more aggressive with its advertising, but the Kindle is doing amazingly well. The Kindle 3 was sold out when released. Amazon has a great selection of e-books in the Kindle Store that includes most best sellers and new releases. There are also Kindle applications available for the iPad and iPod Touch, which draws in e-book sales for the Kindle Store.
Comparing the iPad and Kindle is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. The Kindle is only for reading. It should be designed to be functional in bright, sunny conditions. The iPad is a tablet computer. It is a multipurpose device, and the e-book reader part of the device is simply one of the many functions that the iPad has. The iPad is great for internet browsing, watching videos, sharing photos and playing games. None of these actions are what the Kindle is designed for. The price difference: $499 for the iPad, and $139 for the Kindle Wi-Fi definitely reflects on the nature and function of each device.
The Kindle 3 has a 3G version that is free, whereas on the iPad, 3G connection comes with a monthly cost starting at $15.
So, it just all depends on what you are looking for. When the iPad drops in price, there might be a wider set of consumers purchasing both the Kindle and the iPad for very different purposes.
A lot has been written on how Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad is not a Kindle-killer and I don’t believe it is either. However with all major eBook stores represented on iPad in the form of apps it would be unfair to say that it is without eReader capabilities. This review aims to measure these capabilities and see compare them against eInk based devices such as Amazon Kindle and Nook.
Given the fact some eBook selection at any store/device combo is still far from perfect, eBook selection is where iPad really rocks. There are many reading applications available for iPad that give you access to virtually any store that sells eBooks online:
Apple iPad eBook Reader Apps
- Apple iBooks – Apple branded book reading application that primarily gets books for Apple iBookstore. It can display ePub and PDF files. The only solid data on number of titles I was able to find was projected 60,000 titles at the time of iPad launch in April 2010.
- Amazon Kindle for iPad – one of the many Kindle apps (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC, Mac) gives you access to the same selection of books Kindle eBook reader does – currently 692,000+ titles plus 1,800,000 public domain books.
- Barnes & Noble Nook for iPad – B&N app that gives you access to all books (more than a million according to B&N) available to B&N Nook.
- KOBO for iPad – ePub based application that gives you access books sold at kobobooks.com
- Stanza for iPad – multipurpose eReader application that can get books from a number of sources and works with a number of formats.
- GoodReader – it is actually more of a toolset rather than just eReader. I mainly use this app to download PDF, TXT and other files to my iPad directly rather than going via iTunes.
- eBook Reader – Simple app that gives you access to a limited set of public domain books such as Beowulf, Mark Twain’s works etc. The selection isn’t great but it’s simple and easy to use.
Apple iBooks Review
iBooks was positioned as one of the major features of the iPad. Even before iPad was officially announced it was considered to be Kindle-killer and even a product of the year by some. While iBooks is nice, Kindle-killing didn’t come to pass as of yet.
First thing you see when you launch iBooks is bookshelf with one book on it – Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. The first thing you see when you open this book is color illustration. The second thing you see as you start paging though the book are nice, pleasant, naturally looking page flipping animations. They are detailed enough that you actually see faint text from the other side of the page. Pretty nice and it immediately conveys in a powerful way a simple point: “LCD is not eInk”. You may substitute “not” with “better” if you like.
Apple iPad iBooks Application
Apart from its flashiness, Apple iBooks has all the features good eReader application should have: selection of 6 fonts to choose from, multiple font sizes, search within a book, highlights and annotations, dictionary lookup, bookmarks, variable screen brightness and sepia options. When iPad is in landscape mode, iBooks automatically switches to a two page mode that for some irrational and aesthetic reason is very pleasing to my eye. In this mode iPad is just a notch smaller than a common paperback. In any reading mode pictures can be zoomed in to full screen.
Apple iPad iBooks Font Sizes
Another thing worth noting are Enhanced versions of some eBooks. These are books enriched with multimedia content such as audio recordings and video clips. A good example would be “Nixonland” by xxx that is enriched by newscasts and other video footage relevant to the book. Another example is “More Brothers Grimm Tales with video commentary. Nice and revolutionary as they are these books are few at the moment. Last time I looked I counted only 35.
Apple iPad iBooks Landscape and Multimedia
Although iBooks lacks text-to-speech functionality of Amazon Kindle it is somewhat replaced by VoiceOver that is generic accessibility feature of iPad. While it does read and provides accessibility I didn’t find this feature too useful because you have to manually click on each line of text in order for iPad to read it which is not convenient at all and punctuation is really messed up because sentence boundaries rarely coincide with line breaks.
Amazon Kindle App Review
Amazon Kindle for iPad was available almost immediately after iPad was released. Though it you can buy and read all books that are available for Kindle eReader. Although Kindle owners are used to seeing black-and-white books on their eInk screens, on iPad books that actually have color in them are shown in color.
Amazon Kindle for iPad
While the Kindle page flip animation is not as fancy as in iBooks, Amazon application offers a few features that Apple does not:
- Apart from sepia option there is also “night mode” with text being displayed as white-on-black.
- There is “back” button that allows you to retrace your steps though the book. iBooks can only go back once to the last location after navigating to table of contents.
Amazon Kindle for iPad: Sepia, Black, White Backgrounds
Customization options include 5 font sizes, 3 display modes (white, black and sepia) and variable brightness.
Kindle for iPad Font Sizes
You can download any of the books that you’ve already purchased to your Kindle account and you can buy new one through the Amazon store which is loaded in Safari browser.
Amazon has come out with their own equivalent of “Enhanced Versions” - “Kindle Edition with Audio/Video“. These are books that contain multimedia content that can be viewed on Kindle for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. Currently there are 115 such books available.
Nook for iPad Review
Nook also has application for iPad thus making all Barnes&Noble books available on the Apple tablet.
Barnes & Noble Nook for iPad
The app is a well written eBook reader. It offers more customization options that either iBooks or Kindle for iPad. There are five font sizes and five typefaces, four line spacing options, four margin settings and ability to turn full justification on or off. However what really sets the app apart from the rest is the ability to completely customize color palette and save it as a theme. For every book there are publisher presets that can be used or discarded.
Dictionary, google and wikipedia lookups are supported. So are highlights are annotations.
Kobo for iPad Review
Kobo app allows you to access content you’ve purchased in the Kobo bookstore.
Kobo for iPad
It offers customization options comparable to other eBook reader apps. However it lacks highlight, lookup and annotation support.
For some reason the book that I test purchased had words in ALL CAPS and centered text until I turned off “Kobo styling” option.
There are many other smaller eReader apps for iPad that potentially expand book selection even further. I’ll leave it up the reader to explore those.
Apple iPad Ergonomics
Weighing 26 oz, iPad is considerably heavier than Kindle 3 and even Kindle DX. Playing 8 hours of HD video on a single charge on a nice HD screen takes a lot of heavy components. Unfortunatly it makes it extremely uncomfortable to read with one hand or even with two hands for prolonged periods of time.
I’ve tried reading a book on iPad several nights in a row and constantly after about hour and a half of reading my hand would start getting numb.
iPad offers largest eBook selection because all major players in the industry released applications for it. Unfortunately reading these books for longer than 30 minutes is a very unpleasant experience. While it can display rich multimedia content it is dependent on daily battery charges unlike Kindle.
So if you like reading a lot – iPad will not be a substitute for a dedicated eInk-based eReader. I’d still pick Amazon Kindle or Nook to read books inth evening. I didn’t buy iPad for its book reading capability but for accessing web and rich app content on the go. The fact that I can peek into my Kindle books or better yet read a B&N or Kobo book that is not available on Kindle without having to buy the hardware is a major plus for me.
Kindle 3 and Kindle 2 size comparison
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is offering refurbished 2nd Generation Kindle 2 and Kindle DX for $159.99 and $289.99 respectively through its Warehouse Deals section. For the smaller Kindle, I don’t see any point in going with the refurbished model because the Kindle 3 3G is only $30 more, and it has improved features such as better screen contrast, better web browser and is more lightweight. I have heard that the web browser is much better, which is good because the Kindle 2 web browser is slow and clunky. The Kindle 3 Wi-Fi is an even cheaper option if you are looking for one.
The refurbished models are probably just left over Kindles that didn’t get sold before the new release or returns that were not used. Amazon Warehouse Deals has a lot of other electronics for sale at a discount as well. However, you never know what whether there is something wrong on the inside. Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) provides refurbished iPods as replacements for ones that have been broken as long as they are under warranty. They appear to be brand new, although I’m not sure it is fair to replace a fairly new product with a refurbished one.
I think getting a refurbished Kindle DX might be worth checking out, but the latest generation Kindle DX has much better screen contrast. It is hard to believe that a refurbished Kindle DX is not much more than the Kindle 2 was just nine months ago. At $289, it would be almost half the price of the iPad. Who knows, we might see another price drop for the latest generation of the DX in the near future.
With the Kindle 3′s improvement on the web browser, comes the ability to read newspapers via Google Reader. Google Reader is news site that allows you to add clusters of news sources for whatever topics you like. It also serves as an RSS feed for blogs of your choice. I really like it because you can put everything in one place. I have topics ranging from Science and Technology to Recipe blogs on my Google Reader page.
To navigate Google Reader on the Kindle, use the cursor to find the desired feed, then click the right cursor to navigate to the articles. After that, press “f” on the Kindle’s keyboard to enter full screen mode and you are set to go.
Reports have been swirling around this past week that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is supposedly considering creating other gadgets to sell along with the Kindle and Kindle DX. This would be one tough feat considering that Apple has the monopoly on music players with its iPod, and cell phone carriers make the most revenue from cell phone services. Plus, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have a good head start with the iPhone and Android smartphones.
Amazon might be able to compete more closely with the iPad if it creates a tablet like device with a color screen and better internet access. However, by going to a LCD color display, the company would be abandoning it’s stance on providing a pleasurable reading experience that simulates the experience of reading a regular book.
A recent article from Bloomberg Business Week suggested that Amazon resell items that are already popular in it’s marketplace. That would save the hassle of creating a new product, and they could still make a decent profit from it.
I think Amazon should focus on the Kindle Books by working with the publishers to make the digital quality better and the prices more affordable. The Amazon Kindle app. is available on many different devices, including the iPad, and books can be transferred from one device to another. The recent drop in price and Wi-Fi only model was a smart move on Amazon’s part because the newest Kindle is now sold out. A cheaper Kindle means consumers can make up for the cost in buying more books.
PC Magazine is delivered wirelessly on the Kindle monthly for $1.49. The Kindle edition is released the same day the magazine’s digital edition is released to subscribers.
PC Magazine is a great resource for expert reviews on electronics and computers. PC Magazine was introduced in 1982, the year after IBM set the world into a tailspin with one of the first personal computers. PC Magazine chronicled through the evolution of computer technology. In the 1980’s you could get a desktop for around $6000. You can get one now with a lot more memory and capabilities for less than $1000. The 1990’s were a big decade for computers. Microsoft took off several versions of its Windows operating system. The internet went mainstream into businesses and homes. Apple found it’s niche in graphic design software. Amazon.com, Yahoo and eBay were introduced in the late 1990’s. more
The last decade has brought evolution of existing technologies by improving them and making them much faster. The 2000’s have also seen the introduction of PDA’s and mobile devices such as cell phones, blackberrys, palm pilots and others. The e-book reader market is taking off with the Kindle, Nook and the iPad coming along. The tablet computer market not is too far behind.
Over the years it has been PC Magazine’s job to cover the latest trends, analyze them and share the best results to the consumers so that they can make the most informed decisions in such a rapidly changing market.
PC Magazine stopped selling print editions of its magazine so it makes sense to get it for Kindle if you want a portable device to read it on. However, based on the comments provided, it is highly recommended that the Kindle team add the images in for the articles. Many of the articles are based on the reviews of an item and it is helpful to have a picture of that particular item to refer to.
Currently, PC Magazine is owned by Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc and the stock information is private.
Unlike most companies, Sony is sounding positively chirpy about Apple’s foray into the world of eBooks with their iPad, the iBooks app and the iBook Store. They welcomed Apple’s move into the eBooks domain and also predicted the imminent death of paper printed books as we know it. Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading division told tech site Pocket-lint that a new device that has eBook reading built into as a feature is a good thing for the digital book market. He emphasized the fact that mobile devices that have this feature built in will play a key role in the paradigm shift from the analog to the digital media. So looks like Sony is actually happy that is has such great competition as the Kindle because frankly this is the device that put eBooks on the map. Even Steve Jobs acknowledged that.
Sony also mentioned that the conventional form of a book — ink printed on paper and bound together — is really on its way out. According to them, it has about 5 years of life left before everything goes digital. While that sounds really nice with so many people wanting it to go digital, I would like to remind people that similar things were said about the CD about a decade ago from this date. Yes it is dying but physical storage mediums for audio content have not gone out just yet.
So even though it is plausible that paper books will completely fade out in the near future, there is still at least a decade left for it to even start fading out. That is because the adoption curve globally on new technology is really low and it would be silly to focus only on the US.
But one thing’s for sure — eBooks are only going to become bigger and better as time goes by. The same for all other print media content. We have officially stepped into the decade that saves the print industry by, Ironically, stopping all physical printing!