When the Apple iPad debuted, the Amazon Kindle had already been out for a couple of years. But as soon as the iPad was announced, people started predicting (or at least suggesting) that the iPad would make dedicated ebook readers like the Kindle obsolete. After all, it could do everything the Kindle could do, and then some.
But as time went on, it became clear that the Kindle wasn’t going anywhere. While competitors like the Kobo and nook have shown up to challenge it, they’ve tended to look more like the Kindle than the iPad. And the ones that haven’t, like the new color nook, have been creeping in price closer to iPad range.
So what is it that makes the Kindle such a success that Amazon has to limit Kindle sales to 5 to a customer? Let’s take a look at the iPad first …
Anything Kindle can do, the iPad can do better?
The iPad is basically a huge iPod Touch, with a screen almost 10 inches across. It can run iPhone and iPod Touch apps, scaled up to its screen size, plus apps specifically designed to run on the iPad. Apple sells bluetooth keyboards and cases for the iPad, and with professional apps like iWork available for the iPad it’s almost more like a laptop computer than an Internet / reading tablet. You can even get 3G iPads with an AT&T data plan in the States, and Verizon will soon be selling iPads too.
To all accounts, the iPad is marvelous, and from the time I’ve spent playing with them I’m inclined to agree! It even has apps available for at least four online bookstores: iBooks, Kobo, nook, and yes, even Kindle. Besides that, the iPad can run dedicated apps for magazines like Wired, and it can display them in color to boot. So why would anyone want to use an Amazon Kindle?
The “iPod” of eBooks
It’s true that the Kindle basically does only one thing. But it does it so well! The Kindle is about half the size and weight of the iPad, and while its “e-ink” screen is black-and-white only it means the Kindle has unbelievable battery life. The iPad’s battery lasts 9-10 hours, while the Kindle’s lasts more than a week. And that’s with the wireless Internet turned on. Why would you need a battery that lasts that long? Two words: Camping trips.
While the 3G Kindle costs almost $200 US, the wi-fi only version is under $150. And unless you want to download books on the train, you’re not going to get much use from the Kindle’s limited web browser.
Either way, the Kindle is much cheaper than the iPad, which starts at $500. So if you’re really considering an iPad, maybe get both? Whichever you get, have fun with them!