Contrasting two reviews discussing rumored death of the Kindle

For your viewing pleasure we have two reviews this morning. If you’re bored to death of the JesusTablet feel free to skip this post.

BusinessWeek crucifies the Kindle

BusinessWeek just woke up to the fact that they’re Press and thus obligated to predict the death of the Kindle.

First they have analyst Charlie Wolf offer his opinion -

“It’s not a compelling product,” he says of the Kindle, because Apple’s iPad offers more features, such as the ability to play video, plus a more compelling design.

Notice how his reasons have nothing to do with actually reading ebooks. He’s still predicting 2.5 million to 3 million Kindles sold in 2010.

Next we have noted expert analyst Gene Munster (with his patented technology of using the length of lines outside stores to predict sales) offer up his views -

 “No one in their right mind is going to buy a Kindle DX,” says Munster.

Then we have Business Week use this snippet -

Ten percent of prospective buyers said they had considered a Kindle but decided instead to buy an iPad. And 58% of the respondents who already owned Kindles said they planned to stop using them in light of their iPad purchase.

Notice how they forget to mention that the number of respondents who owned Kindles in their survey was just 58. Predictions based on views of 58 owners (given that there are millions of Kindle owners) are not dependable – Just the number of articles pretending that this survey is hugely significant is more than 58.

BW are so impressed by the survey that they actually have a heading for it – Consumers dumping Kindles for iPads.

Mike Shatzkin’s iPad review from a book reader’s perspective

Mike Shatzkin looks at the iPad from the perspective of an ebook reader and he has this to say -

Here’s a quick review of the iPad. I’ve had it for a few days now and, based on what I know so far, it isn’t going to be a very important part of my life.

Thank goodness there’s at least one person who hasn’t had their life completely transformed by the JesusTablet. Well, two.

Further Heresy

 Mike Shatzkin points out that the on-screen keyboard doesn’t cut it -

The keyboard is miles better than one on a phone, but nowhere near as good as one on a laptop or netbook. So it isn’t a substitute for carrying a full-function computer on a trip …

And then the kiss of death -

But as a straight ereading device, it just doesn’t cut it for me.

The extra weight (over a Kindle or an iPhone) just isn’t sufficient compensation for the extra screen capability.

It isn’t as good as the iPhone for reading in bed in the dark because the much more light it throws off makes it harder to avoid annoying your significant other.

For the past two nights have been reading and surfing on the iPad in bed and the weight really is an issue – the iPhone is actually more convenient.

Pointing out some obvious differences between the two Reviews

Perhaps the biggest difference is -

  1. Mike Shatzkin was looking for a device to read ebooks on. 
  2. BusinessWeek were looking for a catchy story to print.

From the Business Week article it’s apparent that the writer hasn’t had the time to actually read a book on each device and compare – She was busy calling up 4 different analysts (they don’t seem to have read books on the Kindle either) and analyze the survey. Notice how all her information is second-hand information – She never actually writes anything about her personal experience.

It’s a colossal joke – A writer who hasn’t actually tried out the devices is asking analysts who haven’t tried out the devices either and they’re shoring it up by assuming a sample of 58 people buying iPads represent all Kindle owners.

You can take any ‘iPad will kill the Kindle’ review/article and you’ll find the exact same things -

  1. They are almost always written by people who haven’t actually read a book on the Kindle.
  2. Even more amusing is that these people usually haven’t even read a book on the iPad. Walt Mossberg is the sole exception.
  3. The focus is always on things other than reading. The logical flow is: Kindle is an eReader -> iPad is really good for watching movies. You can also read books on it. -> Hence the Kindle is dead.
  4. There’s always a survey or an analyst to lend credibility.
  5. There’s lots of mention of reading in the dark and of color.
  6. There’s never any mention of the things that make iPad non-optimal for reading i.e. lack of portability, heavy weight, unreadable in sunlight, and so forth.  

What if the iPad doesn’t kill the Kindle?

The iPad hasn’t sold tens of millions of units (450K to be precise) and there aren’t dozens of amazing killer apps (perhaps not any) making it absolutely essential. Even Macworld writers are ditching the iPad. So it might not be the second coming of a JesusDevice.

There are just 30,000 non-public domain books in the iBooks store. It’s pretty heavy and it’s not readable in sunlight. So the iPad isn’t a better eReader - Is it really going to kill the Kindle because it’s better for watching movies?

On top of that People aren’t buying very many books from the iBooks store. Nothing like Kindle Store on Christmas.

At this point the whole iPad will kill the Kindle hypothesis is based on factors other than reading. You have to admit that makes it rather undependable.

That would mean it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the iPad fails to destroy Kindle and dedicated eReaders. What happens then?

6 Responses

  1. From today’s Houston Chronicle:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/silverman/6956033.html

    a more reasoned comparison than Business Week’s

  2. I bought a kindle a year ago for a trip to Malawi and loaded up 10 books, Couldn’t afford the airline overweignt. The best use to date is access to a ton of books not copyright covered that I now have access too that would have required a major library for access. The K is not a book, but for a traveler and history buff it is great. I only regret that I got in before the international modle came out. I would buy again, Never considered the Apple offering

  3. Excellent insight. Thanks for sorting hype from fact. I was thinking of buying a Kindle for my wife for her birthday, but I didn’t want to leave the Ipad out of consideration. She reads a lot. I’m buying the Kindle

  4. I agree–I’m sick of seeing “iPad will kill the Kindle” articles from non-readers who have probably never even seen, and definitely never used a Kindle. If you’re interested, I posted a review (I have both a K2 and iPad) on my blog today, specifically focusing on which makes the better e-reader.

    http://www.davidderrico.com/blog

    – David

  5. here is my insight, I bought a kindle 2 when it came out, I returned due to the lack of PDF support (I’m a programmer) I bought the iPad the same day, the Apple guy at best buy was convinced me that iBook could handle PDF.. oh boy it doesn’t, bought a couple of apps that worked pretty well, then was the glare…
    I RETURNED my iPad and became an Apple hater.
    so now kindle handles PDFs and I’m willing to buy it BUT I’m waiting for this year’s Kindle if such a thing is happening this year.
    now I’m convinced that whoever is looking at the iPad as eReader\Kindle killer is totally wrong.
    IMHO apple can take the iPad [edited out]

    • It might be a good idea to wait for the new Kindle. Kindle PDF support is still not very good. Plus the small screen size is a problem for PDFs that don’t have large font sizes. you can go to landscape orientation but even then some PDFs aren’t big enough.

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