Sunday, February 7, 2010

Too Little, Too Late

The iPad isn't even available yet but I've already decided it's time to ditch my Kindle and switch to the Apple platform. Why? In short, I'm disgusted with Amazon's glacial pace of Kindle innovation. The device's functionality is pretty much the same as it was when it launched more than 2 years ago.

Anytime I've suggested Amazon open their platform up to third-party developers, just like Apple's done with the iPhone App Store, most folks questioned the idea. They asked what kind of cool apps could really be developed for an ereader. These are probably the same people who figured all a cell phone needs to do is make and answer calls.

Amazon recently announced their upcoming Kindle Development Kit "for active content." It's about time. Seriously, why did they wait this long? The timing came across as a desperate attempt to divert attention from Apple's iPad announcement.

Regarding the question of what sort of apps could be build for the Kindle, check out this post by Jared Newman entitled 8 Amazon Kindle Apps We Hope to See. (FWIW, I've been pleading for Twitter integration on the Kindle for a long, long time...)

Although Jared offers some great ideas, I've totally lost what little Kindle enthusiasm I still had. Call it iPad envy. As a result, I'm ready to wind down Kindleville. To be honest, I haven't invested much time in it for the past year anyway. Paul Higginbotham has done a nice job keeping Kindleville afloat. If you'd like to join Paul to keep Kindleville around, just let me know. Otherwise, keep an eye out for what I hope to do next on the iPad platform...


Drew Goodman said...

Joe, I completely understand what you are saying. I view it this way- the Kindle is a device. It basically does one thing, and does it moderately well. But the iPad is a platform- it can do multiple things and based on apps (as we've seen from the iPhone) it can end up doing multiple things and do them very well. If a native app isn't fulfilling the need, someone will come along and write a better one. It the flexibility, open to many developers that will propel the iPad and kill the Kindle.

Patrick said...

Have fun reading your iPad outside (IOW: you won't be able to on that glossy lcd screen) and having to charge it everyday.

Joe Wikert said...

Thanks Patrick. Yeah, I know I won't be able to read as well in direct sunlight on an iPad. FWIW, even though I raved about that initially I have to admit that 95+% of my Kindle reading is done indoors, so I'm not sure it will be a problem for me. Speaking of power...why is it that everyone acts like they live on a desert island? My Kindle gets plugged in every night anyway, as does my iPhone. If the device lives up to 10 hours of use between charges I'll be totally fine on that front too!

Aaron Pressman said...

Very legitimate gripes about the Kindle, Joe. Each consumer can weigh the pro's and con's differently, of course. But I think you're premature in endorsing the iPad as your new ereader before ever using one for that purpose or encountering Apple's iBook store or even reading a serious and complete review of the device. (And perhaps Apple will allow the Kindle iPhone app we already know and like on the iPad but I'm not sure at this point). There was an awful lot of premature hype about the Nook. It's also unfortunate that Apple has thrown its weight behind the publishers efforts to jack up the prices of ebooks. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Patrick said...

My iphone has to be plugged in every day, my kindle doesn't, and I don't (plug it in). My Kindle never goes near an outlet or a computer unless it absolutely has to, and that is amazingly liberating and convenient. It's not something I would have considered to matter until I had actually experienced it. I can just grab my Kindle at any point and head out the door without worry about its charge. My iPhone (or ipad) ? No way, not even close.

Additionally, the iPad is way too heavy to be a true Kindle replacement. 1.5 lbs vs 10oz!? Sorry, having gotten VERY used to an extremely thin, light-weight, extremely easy to read device with super-long battery life with a connection I don't have to pay extra money for (*cough* ipad *cough*), I can't imagine replacing a Kindle with an iPad.

Supplementing a Kindle? Sure. I read on my iPhone with the Kindle app now occasionally when I don't have my Kindle with me and with its synchronization feature, it's not an issue picking up where I left off on my Kindle.

For me, there's no way I'd ditch my Kindle. Perhaps I read more than you - I can't say, but in my mind, it's definitely not a replacement.

It's a different (and IMO deeply flawed) device.

No SD slot, low-res glossy 4:3 aspect-ratio screen (1024x768!? - so much for great video watching) that's impossible to use outside, no flash (so much for the internet in your hand), HUGE price diff. just for the 'option' to use a cellular connection, etc.

Will I get an iPad? Yeah, maybe, as a family room plaything but could it replace my Kindle? I sincerely doubt it.

Kmkpax said...

I understand iPad envy, but I think the Kindle is for people who want to READ. I have a Droid phone--it does everything. Why do I need a Droid and an iPad? The only thing I can't do on my Droid is read book on a paper-like screen, which I wouldn't be able to do on an iPad anyway. I think they look cool, as a replacement for a netbook or something like that, but as for avid, hard-core readers like me, I think the Kindle is the best choice. Enjoy your iPad!

Randy said...

So you drank the kool aid. lol. Sorry that the device didn't change in two years, although having a device that works well with reading..what needs to be changed? I don't want it to do anything else. I have computers, laptops, netbooks and a cell phone for other things.

I like e ink, I like the size and I like the fact it does only one thing

Chris said...

While I certainly plan to pick up a 32Gb WiFi only iPad the end of March, I'm less enthused about it's potential as an ereader. No doubt the device and the platform have potential, but I've been an Apple fanboy for too long to have any illusions about Apple's willingness to open the platform.

They are already heading down a slippery slope in my opinion by getting into the price RAISING war and just last week hobbling the Stanza application on the iPhone, no doubt in preparation of the iPad. Next I expect Apple will threaten Calibre with some pre-emptive litigation. Apple is all about pretty and innovative, but openness has NEVER been their forte. Don't expect that to change... Well, until the iPad is jailbroken anyways.

Anne Wayman said...

You know, the Kindle, the Nook, Sony, and the rest, even the iPhone still don't do what a printed book will do... let me safely take it into the bathtub or the beach... I don't understand why ebook reader tech is sooooo sloooooow to get really good.

Is it that the presumable young folks developing the tech don't read as much as those of us who are older?

Anonymous said...

I've said this before- the iPad is not a great device to read BOOKS (newspapers and comic books will be great). AND, the iBook sotre will not do much because users won;t be reading books on nit anyway.

Joe- test yourself, as well as others. In one year, assess how much time you (and others) spend using the device to read books. my guess- only about 10%.

pidgeon92 said...

I don't know what people really expect from e-book readers. I've had the K1, K2 and nook, and they all do exactly what I expected. I add my e-books to them, I open the books and read them. I currently spend 2-3 hours reading daily on my K2 and nook, and I fine them both to be no more and no less than what I want or expect.

Noah Fleming said...

I am a huge apple fan. I will buy an iPad but I just got a kindle.

I love it. I can't read on my laptop without eye strain, not sure how the iPad will change that. Unless they can simulate or turn off/on e-ink of some sort, backlight for reading doesn't work.

Michael said...

I'm torn about the iPad. I've been a Kindle user since the day they were launched (and even interviewed on this site as one of the first gen Kindle owners). I've also been an Apple fan for the last 12 years or so. I was an early adopter on the iPhone (the day it launched), although now I've switched to the Nexus One. So, what's a Mac/Kindle owner to do?

I guess I am not bothered by the 'glacial pace of innovation' as much as Joe is. The Kindle is a very good e-ink based e-reader. However, I never quite understood Amazon getting into the hardware and consumer electronics business. For me, I always thought their best bet was to license access to the Amazon e-book store and allow true hardware manufacturing & consumer technology companies compete to build the best device with access to the Amazon store. By starting with a closed platform and a proprietary device, they opened the door for Apple to eventually dominate the space (with another semi-closed platform and proprietary device).

For the same reason I don't want to plug my toaster into the Internet and have a toaster app store, is the same reason that I am not bothered that the Kindle has not become anything more than a good e-reader. Amazon has always proclaimed that the Kindle is a single purpose reading device.

This still begs the question: will I make the switch to the iPad? I am not that thrilled at the prospects of the iPad being an e-reader -- especially for books. However, full color magazine content and other interactive content solutions are compelling (i.e. see how the magazine Wired is experimenting with an iPad like device -

Most likely, I will use an iPad as a roving internet tablet and app device while I continue to take my Kindle on the road for reading books.

Andrys Basten said...

Joe, I've read all the responses and they're similar to what I wrote in the newer thread about Kindle vs iPad talk.

I don't think the iPad 'replaces' the Kindle (or 'kills' it) as it's not a small extremely clear book reader, readable outdoors and really easy on the eyes (which my beautiful netbook screen is not -- for books).

I can web for hours on LCD or tube w/o probs, but reading a book is different. I suspect that those who buy iPads to take the place of an ereader won't be reading books to the extent of those who want to retain a dedicated e-ink or e-paper reader and will be getting the iPad for web play or work. That's what I'll get it for when it's iPad-2.

In the meantime I hope you reconsider and just make this a holiday or long vacation rather than an abandonment of your Kindleville, as I've always looked forward to your take on the device and the e-reader industry, even if it's not particularly positive to the Kindle. You're never dull. So I'd like to be able to continue to read you on this topic.