Apple's iPad Ready to Challenge the Kindle

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Apple iPad

Not only will the Apple iPad compete with the Amazon Kindle as an e-reader, but because Apple's new tablet will run iPhone apps, it will compete with Kindle's software, too. People who buy the iPad can choose to use Apple's new iBooks app and bookstore, or they could opt to run Kindle's iPhone app on the device instead.

The decision might just come to down to the book stores. The iPad's iBook store may be new, but the concept behind it is not; it's not all that different from Amazon's Kindle store for iPhone.

What's interesting is that the Amazon Kindle book store will work on the iPad from day one, albeit only in 2x mode (pixel doubling to fill the larger screen). However, as the SDK for the iPad is out today, Amazon has plenty of time to prepare its store for the larger screen of the iPad over the next 60 days.

Books and magazines for the iPad

Kindle iPhone

In theory, if you already own a Kindle (or ebooks purchased from Amazon) you will be able to enjoy them straight away on the iPad. But the best part of having two (three if you count Barnes & Noble in as well) book stores on the iPad will be diversity and choice. All of the apps are free to download; you pay only for the titles you want to buy, so there's little to prevent users from switching between all three.

My colleague Nick Mediati was commenting last night how the iPad iBookstore is lacking periodicals. But then it struck me - it doesn't matter if the iBookstore don't have magazines, the Kindle store does.

Yet, what's interesting about the iPad is that publishers don't have to rely on book stores for distributing their static content. Instead, they can create their own full-fledged application from the App Store, like The New York Times does on the iPad.

Kindle DX loses to the iPad, Kindle stands a chance

Apple iPad

The Amazon Kindle goes for almost half the price of the iPad and comes with free wireless and a full keyboard. The iPad starts at $499, but brings in loads more storage, a larger color touchscreen, Wi-Fi, and a familiar interface to those who ever used an iPod touch or an iPhone.

Battery life on the Kindle is superior though, up to two weeks. Yet the Kindle is a single-purpose device with a grayscale screen. Perhaps it would be best to compare the iPad with the Kindle DX, which incidentally also has 9.7-inch display, and it's only $10 cheaper than an iPad. Here's where the comparison gets tough on Amazon.

The iPad won't probably kill the small Kindle: it's cheaper and performs well at letting your read for an extended period of time without tiring your eyes. But the Kindle DX should prepare for a battering from the iPad if Amazon doesn't drop the price significantly. For only $10 more, the iPad delivers three times the storage of the DX, a color touch screen, and an all-round multipurpose device.

If you already have a Kindle though, things might get exciting, as Amazon is preparing to launch apps for the platform as well. Keep an eye though on book prices. Apple's iBookstore merchandise is up to 50 percent more expensive than on the Kindle, which means bigger bucks for publishers, and possibly hurdles for Amazon's store.

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At a Glance
  • Apple looks set to shake up casual computing with a tablet that offers clever design and ease of use. But that streamlined approach may also be the iPad's weakness.


    • Best-in-class touch interface
    • Large display shows pics and videos beautifully
    • All-day battery life


    • No way to manage files, no camera, no multitasking
    • Lack of Flash support cripples many Web sites
    • Poor scaling of iPhone apps
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