Kindle necessary for iPad owners – ComputerWorld

There’s a new trend starting – People who bought the iPad had begun to think the Kindle was no longer needed. Of course, they felt it necessary to scream it out from the rooftops and declare the Kindle dead. Now after a month or so with their iPads more and more of them are changing their minds as they realize the Kindle really is better for reading.

We saw this with Clayton Morris who pointed out several reasons the Kindle is better for reading than the iPad. We now have Mike Elgan at ComputerWorld have a change of heart –

But now that I’ve used an iPad for a month and a half, I’ve come to realize that I still want, need and love my Kindle.

In a nutshell, the e-book reading on the iPad is generally great. But the list of things the iPad does badly is identical to the list of things the Kindle does well. And vice versa.

He’s hedging his bets – However, it’s much better than the initial ‘Kindle is dead’ sentiment.

13 reasons iPad owners need a Kindle

Courtesy Mike Elgan at ComputerWorld we get a list of 13 reasons the Kindle is necessary even if you have the magical iPad –

  1. Reading in the Sun. He rightly points out that the iPad is unreadable in direct sunlight. It’d be nice if people started pointing out that the iPad doesn’t handle bright light that well either.
  2. Free Mobile Broadband – He rightly points out that if you only need 3G to browse for books and download them then the Kindle has free 3G. He misses out that Wikipedia, Google search, and mobile sites also work quite well.
  3. Auto-Reader (Text to Speech) – Elgan talks about letting his Kindle read to him and the usefulness. Apple also has text to speech though its an accessibility feature (Voice Over) and it’s a pain to use as all the buttons become voice activated.
  4. Overheating. He says that in direct sunlight, in a hot car, and in hot weather the iPad can overheat and shut down.  
  5. Security. A very valid point – the Kindle is less likely to be stolen and at $189 much less of a loss if it is.
  6. Reading before Sleep. Mike Elgan quotes a study that suggests reading on a device using a back-lit screen can interfere with the quality of your sleep. This is one of those things which varies from person to person – for me, backlit screens at night do mess up my sleep.  
  7. Battery Life. iPad’s 10 to 12 hours versus the Kindle’s 2 weeks.
  8. Book Availability. Not as much of a pro-Kindle argument as a pro-Kindle Store argument.  
  9. Magazine Availability. Also a pro-Kindle Store argument. 
  10. Weight. The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds and holding it with one or both hands gets tiring very quickly. You have to rest it against something which sometimes means bending your neck awkwardly. The Kindle is just 10.2 ounces and you can hold and read it for a long time – even if you’re using just one hand.
  11. Multiple Users. Elgan points out that kids, family, and friends always want to borrow the iPad and it’s tough to get time for reading.
  12. Peace. He says that he gets interrupted once every 15 minutes when using his iPad outdoors.
  13. Multitasking. Mike Elgan says there are lots of situations where two devices are better than one.

His ending is pretty interesting –

If I had to choose between an iPad and a Kindle, there is no question that I’d choose an iPad. But I don’t have to choose. I can have it all. And I recommend that all serious readers who buy an iPad do the same.

It’s pretty obvious that after 1 to 2 months of owning an iPad the ‘This device does everything better than everything else’ sentiment begins to disappear. Makes you wonder what other feelings are going to dissipate over the next 3 to 4 months.

Amazon adds search to Kindle for iPhone, promises search for Kindle for iPad

Amazon has released Version 2.1 of its Kindle App – It’s a shared app that functions as both Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPad.

Kindle for iPhone gets Search

The big additions are –

  1. Search function for Kindle for iPhone that lets you search inside a book. 
  2. Addition of bigger fonts and more font sizes for Kindle for iPad.

There are also a couple small changes –

  1. Quicker navigation between home and archived items on iPad.  
  2. Display of download progress – including percentage completed.

Finally, Amazon promises that some new additions are ‘coming soon’ –

  • The ability to search within books on Kindle for iPad
  • The ability to instantly look up any word using the included Dictionary. They say that the dictionary has 250,000 entries and definitions. 
  • Ability to search for words on Wikipedia and to do Google searches using the word.

How is the search feature? Other features?

There’s now a magnifying glass image at the top right and clicking that brings up a separate page. On this page you can enter a word or phrase – It disregards small words like ‘we’ and won’t search for them. Enter a longer word like ‘here’ and you get a list of results showing a snippet of words including the word/phrase you searched for (though it isn’t highlighted). The list uses Location as the titles for the various search results.

The downloading bar is pretty good as it shows both a progress bar and a percentage – although download speeds are usually so fast you have to wonder why it was added.

The addition of larger fonts for the iPad is a much-needed change – the largest size on Kindle for iPad wasn’t big enough. It’s also nice to have more font size options (6 instead of 5). The change of ‘quicker and easier navigation between Home and Archive’ is a rather small usability change (although a good one).

It’s pretty interesting that iBooks added some new features, including the ability to search books and view PDFs, a few days ago and Amazon almost instantly responded. It’s almost as if Amazon want to make Kindle for iPad/iPhone the best reading option on the iPad/iPhone but not as good as the Kindle.

Reviewing the new developments in Kindle vs iBooks

Steve Jobs announced some important additions to iBooks at today’s Reality Distortion Conference –

  1. Ability to add notes to an iBook.
  2. Ability to just tap and add a bookmark. 
  3. iBooks gets PDF support. Click a PDF you get in your email and it opens up in iBooks. A separate bookshelf for PDFs.
  4. iBooks comes to the iPhone. It’s in iOS4 which is the default for iPhone 4 and also available free to previous generation iPhones.  
  5. Apparently iPhone 4’s new Retina Display makes books very pretty. It might even make them more readable.
  6. A book bought via iBooks will be downloadable to all your iDevices.
  7. iBooks will synchronize your place, notes, and bookmarks across iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.  

Most of these features are already present on Kindle for iPhone/iPad. The PDF support is one feature that the Kindle for iPhone/Kindle for iPad app doesn’t yet support.  Overall, these features are a big deal as they make iBooks a stronger competitor to Kindle for iPhone.

Reviewing impact on Kindle for iPhone vs iBooks

If you own an iWhatever you will probably consider these points –

  1. iBooks is the more publicized app and it matches the Apple aesthetic better. 
  2. iBooks has PDF support.  
  3. Kindle for iPhone has far more new books and better prices for non Agency Model books. 
  4. Kindle for iPhone syncs with PC, Mac, Blackberry, and the Kindle.
  5. Kindle for iPhone is a better reading experience than iBooks – better themes, better brightness control, better font.
  6. iBooks has fancy animated page turns and wooden bookshelves.
  7. iBooks has an in-app store – No having to go to the browser to buy books.

Kindle for iPhone is clearly better if your focus is on range and price of books and the reading experience. iBooks is better if you care a lot about animated page turns or need PDF support. 

Apple’s trump card is the power of the default and owning the App Store. Apple will just publicize iBooks a lot and win out.

Reviewing impact on iPhone vs Kindle

 Kindle is clearly a better reading device. There are only two substantial pieces of news as far as Kindle vs iPhone is concerned –

  1. Addition of PDF support. This makes the iPhone a tiny better than it was. 
  2. Apparently books in iBooks look much better with the iPhone 4’s new Retina Display. If this translates into better readability i.e. less eye strain and better screen contrast then it would make a better contrast Kindle 3 an absolute necessity.

Today’s news makes existing iPhones slightly better reading devices. It also suggests that the iPhone 4 might be a slightly dangerous competitor with its improved screen contrast – Trust Apple to give it a fancy name (Retina Display) – almost expected it to be called MagicalVision.  

Reviewing impact on iPad vs Kindle

The iPad doesn’t really get much – just PDF support. It probably makes PDF readers history. However, the Kindle already has PDF support. The syncing between iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch isn’t a competitive advantage either – Kindle syncs across a lot more devices including all three of these.

If the next version of the iPad were to get the Retina Display it would be interesting to see how it looks and whether the difference in readability between eInk and LCD is reduced. At the moment the Kindle continues to be a significantly better reading device – unless you want a device that does multiple things.

Big Surprise – iBooks doing well with Agency Model Publishers

Jobs was fashionably vague about how iBooks is doing –

  1. In the first 65 days – 5 million books downloaded. About 2.5 per iPad. 
  2. No update from 2 million iPads sold. Guess he’s waiting to reach 3 million. 
  3. 5 of the 6 biggest publishers in the US tell Apple that the share of iBooks is up to about 22% – in 8 weeks. Assuming he means 22% of the ebook market for those 5 publishers. 

Compared to how close to their chests Amazon and B&N keep their sales figures this amount of disclosure seems positively scandalous.

What does it mean?

Perhaps as the Agency Model 5 raised their ebook prices their sales on other devices dipped. Lots of iBooks users were probably unaware of the whole $9.99 vs $14.99 controversy or didn’t care and their purchases meant that 22% of all sales of ebooks (for these 5 publishers) were from iBooks. It’s also worth noting that Random House is not on iBooks – meaning most users had no choice except for the Agency Model 5.

  1. Does this mean another 22% of sales for these Publishers were through Kindle for iPad? Amazon aren’t exactly going to help us out with that question. 
  2. B&N eReader for iPad was released just a few days ago so its figures wouldn’t really help.
  3. Is the figure high because Kindle owners have stopped buying books from these Publishers? Is it because iBooks users are buying lots of books?

2.5 books per iPad doesn’t seem very high – especially if it includes free books.

It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on – 22% is a healthy number. However, it’s disingenuous of the Agency Model 5 to not reveal what happened to ebook sales in other channels – Did they dip? Did they go up? What about sales through Kindle Store – what happened there?

iBooks on the iPhone and iPod Touch means a huge potential customer base

The two key words are huge and potential

  1. There are 100 million iDevices and most of these are iPhones and iPod Touches (98 million or so). 
  2. The iBooks store will have access to the 150 million credit cards that iTunes has access to. 
  3. These users might be interested in reading books.
  4. Some portion might be coerced into reading 1 or 2 books a year.
  5. A smaller portion might end up reading a book a month on their iPhones.

The hugeness of the number (98 million) and the fact that there are 150 million credit cards in iTunes are very significant. It remains to be seen whether that translates into a lot of ebook sales.