Kindle vs iPad Mini

There had been rumors of a 7″ iPad Mini to take on the Kindle in April. It’s mid-July and Kindle vs iPad Mini rumors are heating up again.

Kindle vs iPad Mini – 7″ and 5.6″ iPad Minis by end 2010?

At that time we had heard –

… a smaller 5- to 7-inch version of the iPad that is expected to launch as soon as the first quarter of 2011 …

… priced below US$400 and will target the highly portable mobile device market and consumers that focus mainly on reading.

Now we are hearing (iPad Mini hints courtesy DigiTimes) –

… second-generation iPad, using 5.6-inch and 7-inch OLED panels, as soon as in the fourth quarter of 2010 …

The sources noted that Apple has recently placed new iPad orders to Taiwan-based component makers for the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 with 9.7-inch, 5.6-inch and 7-inch models all included.

The new 5.6- and 7-inch iPads will mainly target the e-book reader market, separating them from the 9.7-inch model, which mainly targets multimedia entertainment, the sources stated.

It’s basically the exact same rumors – expect this time there’s talk of contracts having already been signed and OLED displays being used on the iPad Mini 7″ and iPad Mini 5.6″.

Is this about Kindle vs iPad Mini or about gaming?

While both in April and now in July the rumors have claimed that the 5.6″ and 7″ iPad Minis will target readers it’s hard to believe Apple would be building OLED screen reading devices.

  1. OLEDs consume more power than even LCDs. How are they going to compete with eInk? 
  2. OLEDs are pretty expensive – DigiTimes says Samsung and LG Display are reducing prices and you still have to wonder what prices they can get OLEDs down to.
  3. The choice of OLEDs hints at a desire to bring the prettier Retina Display to iPads rather than to create a more readable display.
  4. OLEDs aren’t readable in sunlight.
  5. How will OLED powered do-everything devices for $400 compete with $189 Kindles and $109 refurbished Kindles?

Perhaps Apple hits $300 – However, the device would still not be ideal for reading. Whether it’s lower battery life due to use of OLEDs, not being readable in sunlight, or more eye-strain than eInk you get the same set of problems the iPad currently has.

The only dimension Apple would improve on is price. Perhaps they think Retina Display ads will be enough to convince people the iPad Mini is better for reading than Kindle eInk.

Sub $400 7″ iPad Mini vs $189 6″ Kindle 3 – What would readers choose?

People who want a device that does more than just read are already picking an iPhone or an iPad. So we really aren’t talking about that demographic. This is about people who want a device for reading books.

Let’s consider some of the most important qualities related to reading –

  1. Readable screen. The Kindle wins due to eInk. There will, however, be people who are seduced by the Retina display and color and touch capabilities of the iPad Mini.  
  2. Easy to get books. A tie as both devices are good.
  3. Good value for money. This is a difficult one as for readers the Kindle is better – However, it’s hard to claim the iPad Mini won’t offer as good or even better value for money if you start factoring in non-reading uses.
  4. Low Total Cost of Ownership. Kindle wins as wireless browsing and downloads are free. This is never really considered when people discuss the iPad. 
  5. Doesn’t tire the eyes. Kindle wins for people who aren’t LCD compatible. LCD compatible people find no difference.
  6. Lots of available books. Tie due to the Kindle for iPad app.
  7. Low book prices. Tie due to the Kindle for iPad app.   
  8. Readable in sunlight. Kindle wins.
  9. Readable in the dark. iPad wins if you can’t (or don’t want to) turn on a reading light. It might affect your sleep and cause insomnia – However, if you’re LCD compatible you’re probably immune to this.
  10. Apps that add to reading. Depends on what the Kindle App Store looks like and when it releases. iPad wins at the moment. 
  11. Light Weight. This was a major iPad disadvantage and this will now be a tie.
  12. Portable form factor. Another major iPad disadvantage that will be a tie.

We arrive at a rather interesting realization – The iPad was losing out to the Kindle in a few key areas including total cost of ownership, intial price, weight, portability, readability in sunlight, and readable screen.

Due to the lower price and smaller size the 5.6″ and 7″ iPads would counter some of those Kindle advantages – initial price (to an extent), weight, portability.

The gap between iPad Mini and Kindle for readers would be smaller. There will be a few groups of readers who’ll obviously stick with the Kindle – people who aren’t LCD compatible, people who want a device focused on reading and don’t want distractions, people who consider total cost of ownership. There will also be a few groups of readers who will leave – those who want one device that does everything, those who are LCD compatible, people who aspire to own an Apple product but couldn’t afford one until the $300 iPad.

Smaller, cheaper iPads would make Kindle vs iPad Mini a very close fight

Amazon still has a strong price, portability, and readability advantage over the iPad. However, when Apple introduces cheaper iPads Amazon will have to either create new advantages or match Apple advantages.

The possibilities include a better eInk screen, even lower prices, a really good Kindle App Store, more focus on reading, a multi-tasking Kindle that attacks Apple, Kindle subsidies, more focus on Kindle Apps, and creating a new killer feature Apple can’t match.

The iPad is not a huge threat because it’s still too untailored for reading and too expensive (particularly if you consider total cost of ownership). However, Apple are clearly indicating that they intend to go after readers – even if it is with a multi-purpose device. If Amazon doesn’t create a few big advantages for the Kindle by the end of 2010 Kindle vs iPad Mini might turn out very bad for the Kindle.

2 thoughts on “Kindle vs iPad Mini”

  1. ipad….. ugh.. another one? Apple needs to worry about fixing the issues with the iphone 4…..

    The ipad is awesome, but so different then “any” ereader…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *