Archive for Sunday, April 4, 2010

iPad vs. Kindle

Who’s poised to dominate the electronic reader market?

April 4, 2010


If you’re choosing between a Kindle or an iPad for reading electronic books, you might keep in mind some advantages of both products.


• Lower price. ($259)

• Light weight. (10.2 ounces. The iPad is 1.5 pounds.)

• Can wirelessly download books any time, anywhere from Amazon’s Kindle Store without a monthly fee. The $499, entry-level iPad goes online only in Wi-Fi hot spots. Wireless connectivity anywhere requires an iPad that is $629 and up, plus a monthly service fee.

• Gray-scale “e-ink” screen that can be read in direct sunlight.

• Battery lasts up to a week with wireless connection on, or two weeks with it off.


• LCD color touch screen is 9.7 inches diagonally, compared with 6 inches on the Kindle. That can give a more complete Web-surfing experience.

• It also functions as an iPod and video player.

• It can download music and videos from Apple’s iTunes Store and games and applications from its App Store — including e-reading apps from Apple and other companies, such as Amazon.

—, which has dominated the young but fast-growing electronic book market for the past few years with the Kindle, may have gotten its biggest threat Saturday, when Apple released its iPad multimedia tablet.

The Kindle starts at $259 and is designed mainly for reading text on a gray-and-black screen. The iPad starts at $499, but with the higher price comes more functions: a color touch screen for downloading books from Apple’s new iBookstore, surfing the Web, playing videos and games and more.

It will take time to determine whether the iPad causes a tremor in the e-reader market, a high-magnitude quake or something in between. But in the meantime, people who read electronic books or are considering buying a reading device will find their choices getting more complicated.

If the Kindle e-reader falls out of favor with people drawn to Apple’s offering, there could be a very thick silver lining for Amazon: It sells e-books that can be read on many kinds of devices, including the iPad and other Apple gadgets. That means the Kindle could fade and Amazon could still occupy a profitable perch in e-books.

However, Apple could find ways to tilt the field in its favor. At least for now, both the Apple iBookstore and the Kindle service will be accessible in much the same way on the iPad — as “application” icons that users can click. Eventually Apple could give its own bookstore and reading program more attention on the iPad.

Apple also could try to curry favor with publishers in a way that matters to consumers, perhaps by securing exclusive titles.

Publishers’ relationships with Amazon have been strained by Amazon’s insistence on charging $9.99 for some popular e-books. Publishers have complained that it is an attempt to get consumers used to unsustainably low prices. Amazon takes a loss on some books at that price, and the publishers fear that if the $9.99 tag sticks, Amazon will force publishers to lower their wholesale prices, cutting into their profits.

The iPad gives publishers an opportunity for a new pricing model. Some e-books will cost up to $14.99 initially, and Apple is insisting that publishers can’t sell books at a lower price through a competitor. The iBookstore is launching with titles from major publishers such as Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan. One big publisher, Random House, has not yet struck a deal with Apple.

Amazon declined to comment on the iPad’s release.

Although Amazon has tried to snag as much of the e-book market as possible since launching the Kindle in 2007, the company has never revealed how many Kindles it has sold. Analysts estimate it has sold 3 million. (Analysts believe Apple could sell that many iPads in the product’s first year). Amazon has offered only sketches of the Kindle’s effect on its business, such as by saying that when books are sold in both hard copy and the Kindle format, it sells 48 Kindle books for every 100 hard copies.

Compared to the Kindle, the iPad would seem to have some disadvantages. The entry-level model is nearly twice the price of the Kindle, yet it can’t download books everywhere. It can do that only where it is connected to the Internet over Wi-Fi. At 1.5 pounds, it is more than twice as heavy as a Kindle. And its battery lasts for just 10 hours, compared with up to a week on a Kindle when it has its wireless access on.

However, among the elements in the iPad’s favor is a touch screen that is 9.7 inches diagonally, compared with 6 inches on the Kindle. Ron Skinner, 70, who lives in Las Vegas and bought a Kindle last February, says he has ordered Apple’s product because he thinks it will offer a better reading experience.

Skinner, an Apple investor who reads about three books a week, says the contrast between the text and the background is too low on the Kindle’s “e-ink” screen, and reading on it bothers his eyes. The difference between the Kindle screen and the iPad screen “is like daylight and dark,” Skinner says.

Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies Inc., says the iPad signals the start of a larger shift away from static digital versions of books and magazines. Eventually e-books will be expected to have multimedia dimensions, with video and interactive elements, he says, which calls for something more like Apple’s tablet device than something that is largely dedicated to reading.

The main question then would be whether Amazon wants to try to soup up the Kindle to be more like a tablet, or whether it will remain content to offer something more specialized. Consider that the Kindle also can surf the Web, but it’s not a feature that’s highlighted or encouraged much.

Amazon stock has risen about 11 percent since Apple unveiled the iPad in January, while Apple shares have climbed 13 percent.


deepakthomas 8 years, 2 months ago

IMHO ergonomics is the #1 reason a medium-to-heavy reader would choose the kindle over the iPad.

buzzingup 7 years, 9 months ago

Amazon has already launched a video ad compaign against iPad. Check this out to see the difference in screen of the readers.

whats_going_on 7 years, 9 months ago

Holding an expensive piece of equipment by the pool...beach..water...sand...


I can buy a book at Half Price for 3 bucks, or the same book on that for 10-15. Which is the smarter option?

I have an IPad, but I don't like reading on it very much, I'd rather just have a book in my hand.

buzzingup 7 years, 9 months ago

Thats your personal choice, but if you want to compare both the devices as the reader then Kindle is the sure shot winner. and yes i don't deny with iPad its a great device but just not a eBook reader.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

They're two different products. If you primarily want to use it to read books, save some money and get the Kindle. If you want something that's more like a laptop, but can also be used to read books, get an iPad.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 9 months ago

Glad to see this article although I can't say it was much help. The kids have decided to pool their money and buy me either a Kindle or an iPad for Christmas this year. It's up to me to decide which one I want. I'm not all that tech-savvy so I'm trying to read as much as possible about both in order to make a decision. I could use a little advice from those who own one or the other. I'd actually prefer a LARGE gift card to Border's or Half-price books, but these hard-headed kids of mine are determine to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Bassetlover 7 years, 9 months ago

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Kindle. It's a year old and works like a charm. So easy to use and navigate with. Not a single problem with it from day one. Use it to read books only; no newspapers or magazines. I have read about 35 books in the past year. Prior to that, I had only read about 35 books in the past 10 years. The Kindle is such a motivator to read more! The customer service support through Amazon is stellar, amazing, and if you do it by phone---instantaneous! Go for it; you won't regret it.

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