Apple iPad vs Kindle: Is iPad a Kindle Killer?

Even before iPad was announced one of the hottest topics of discussion was how it would affect Amazon Kindle. Virtually everyone expected the Apple Tablet to ship with an ebook reader and for Apple to position it as a better alternative to Kindle. So  is iPad a Kindle Killer?  In one word: No. I think, in the short term Kindle sales will be cannibalised.  But Amazon is in this game for the long term and they are not going to concede defeat that easily. Amazon is smarter and more nimble than Nokia and other mobile manufacturers who didn't know what hit them when the iPhone was introduced. At the very least expect to see some drastic Kindle price cuts and  newer devices with more capabilities. This is just the start of a long war between Amazon and Apple.

Apple iPad

Apple iPad vs Kindle

Feature Kindle Kindle DX iPad
Price $260 $489 $499
Screen Size 6\" Eink, 600x800pixels, greyscale 9.7\" Eink, 1200 x 824pixels, greyscale 9.7\" LCD, 1024x768, Color
Size 203x135x9.1mm 10.4x7.2x0.38 inches 9.56x7.47x0.5 inches (243x190x13.4 mm))
Weight 289.2 grams 18.9 ounces (0.53kg) 1.5pounds (0.68Kg)
System Requirements None None Mac/PC with iTunes
Wireless Global coverage. Free usage in home country Global Coverage.Free usage in home country Unlocked but uses mini sims, no free coverage
Storage 2GB 4GB 16-64GB
Battery Life 7 days 7 days 10 hours
Access To Ebooks Kindle, PC, iPhone Kindle, PC, iPhone iPad and probably other mediums
Ebooks Available 400,000 400,000 Unknown, probably less than Kindle
Typical Ebook price $9.99 $9.99 $12.99-$14.99

Kindle has two major advantages over iPad: Screen and Battery Life. Though reading on LCD is much more comfortable than a CRT, it does not hold a candle to Eink (Kindle's Screen Tech) which is as comfortable as reading print.An LCD screen is fine for short bursts of reading like web pages. But when I read ebooks on my macbook LCD screen I end up with a slight headache and bleary eyes even after reducing the display brightness I think it is because while reading an ebook we are less distracted and tend to read continuously, increasing the strain on eyes. I have never met anyone who raves about how easy it is to read on the computer compared to print. Whereas Kindle owners raves about how pleasant the reading experience is. It catches them by surprise.

iPad is a decent general purpose media consuming device. But as a dedicated ebook reader, I think it falls short of the mark. With just 10 hours of battery life, charging it is another chore you would have to remember to do. this would be fine when you are at home but on a vacation would your rather have a kindle with its fantastic 7 day battery life or and iPad which you need to recharge daily ? Kindle offers worldwide global coverage with well publicized rates whereas with the iPad you have to buy a data plan. If you are on a overseas vacation, the iPad 3G may not work or maybe expensive (rates haven’t been publicized yet) but Kindle is guaranteed to work in almost anywhere and the rates are fixed.

If you are an avid book reader and is looking at iPad as a kindle replacement, think a little more about it after the iPad buzz dies down. As a dedicated ebook reader I think Kindle wins hands down. If you want a general purpose tablet, iPad is the best choice available right now.

What Amazon Should Do With Current Kindle

  1. Bring down the price: With iPad priced at 499$, Kindle DX suddenly looks overpriced. Drop the original Kindle price to a level where impulse purchases are possible. Possibly 149$.
  2. Introduce a decent way to organize the content library in Kindle. And while you are at it make it a little pretty please. Apple gets it. That is the reason why the iBooks bookshelf is functional and visually appealing.
  3. Eliminate the hardware keyboard and introduce the software keyboard.: It is a reading device and text input is a very secondary function. A software keyboard is more than sufficient. This will also reduce the overall size of the device and may help in bringing down the price.

Kindle Advantages

  1. Screen: EInk is well suited for long reading. LCD screens are strenous
  2. Battery Life: At 7 days, there is no need for you to fret about battery life. iPad will most likely need daily recharges
  3. Ebook collection: Kindle library has a larger collection of ebooks than the iBooks store. But Apple will most likely catch up soon.
  4. Free wireless in home country. Global Wireless available with downloads charged
  5. Size: The smaller kindle is a perfectly adequate ebook reader
  6. Ebook prices: Amazon is currently pricing them at below cost at $9.99

iPad Advantages

  1. Multipurpose device. Can play video, browse web, play music, read ebooks,browse photos and more.
  2. App Store: Expect developers to come up with some amazing apps aimed at iPad. Kindle platform is limited in capabilities and will not attract even a fraction of iPhone developers
  3. Better designed and has slick software. Kindle  does not even have a way to organize books and other content.
  4. Multi-Touch screen

I think Amazon should focus on making the best ebook reader there is. It will be almost impossible for Amazon to make a better general purpose tablet than iPad. Apple's expertise in mobile computing is now almost insurmountable. They have in-house capabilities right from chip design to User Interface and fully own the stack.

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