…when it comes to eBook readers.

I read this article today on ZDNet and I felt so strongly about it that rather than just post a reply it has formed my blog post today.

Five iPad lessons Apple could teach Amazon to save the Kindle

I could not disagree with this article more. I purchased an iPad, my mother has a Kindle. Amazon has nothing to learn from Apple with regards to the ZDNet articles 5 points.

Read on for the counter opinion…

Lesson 1: Hardware fit and finish – There is nothing wrong at all with the look of the Kindle and the fact that it weighs so little makes it perfect for reading. The iPad on the other hand is like a brick and children or older people (the ones who tend to read a lot) will seriously struggle with an iPad. My mother of 67 with arthritic hands can read on a Kindle all day, no way could she do that on an iPad. I am surprised Steve Jobs can pick it up to be honest. Luckily I am a young (44), healthy male with the strength to hold the iPad…but I am wondering if I am developing a little RSI???

Lesson 2: Software fit and finish- If the UI is so bad how come my mother of 67 has purchased, setup and downloaded books (and reads on it all day every day) by herself without the help of any family member? Seems to me Kindle have it just right in that they have targeted a market of readers and given them a device that does just what they want and they are happy with it. Just because something is all glossy and colour and full of special effects doesn’t make it better, a lesson that Hollywood is slowly learning by integrating special effects with a good plot and I am not referring to Avatar here although I did really enjoy it :-) That is what makes foreign movies so good, they have substance.

Lesson 3: Backlighting– Ok I agree with you that taking electronics to the beach is a bad idea. But, if I was headed to my favourite pool side Hotel Phadma Balidestination in Bali (Mmmmm Bali) the Kindle would be perfect for reading by the pool and would not need to be recharged for the entire 2 weeks of my holiday. The iPad on the other hand, well I had a problem with the glare in Panera the other day whilst eating my soup so I seriously doubt I would be able to read on the iPad poolside all day. Now on to the e-Ink (see more details here at Wikipedia); there is absolutely hands down no doubt that e-Ink, which the Kindle uses, is far, far, far easier to read than the iPad screen. Let me repeat that again and not matter what Apple tells you this is the gods honest truth: Reading on a Kindle that uses e-Ink puts far less strain on your eyes. I am serious. You can physically feel the difference when reading on each device. A Kindle is for long term reading, an iPad is for MTV style, I want it now, Gen-Y consumption.

Once last point on this, just did a test with the iPad and the Kindle in direct sunlight, like what I would experience pool side. The iPad was unreadable and physically hurt my eyes. The Kindle was perfectly readable with no eye strain at all.

Lesson 4: Colour –Again, I am interested in the content of what I am reading not how aesthetically pleasing it is on the eye. The only case I can see where the iPad wins out here is textbooks with illustrations that are enhanced by the use of colour. However, for my day to day fiction, my geek books (currently reading ‘Professional SQL Server 2008 – Internals and Troubleshooting’ see my previous blog post) I don’t need colour and it adds nothing. We are talking about a reading device here remember. Kindle has nothing to learn from Apple when it comes to reading. In fact, and this from someone who had never seen or used a Kindle or iPad until 2 weeks ago, I started out with iBooks and then discovered the Kindle App on the iPad and haven’t looked back since. Apples iPad reader is very poor compared to the Kindle reader. At least the Kindle reader allows me to set the backlight screen to black and the font to white to reduce eye strain when reading in the dark. Nice touch Amazon.

Lesson 5: iPad differentiation – No, No, No. The Kindle already is differentiated from other devices on the market.

  • It’s already 1/2 the price of the cheapest iPad.
  • Convenience is already there. it’s light, fits in your handbag (if your a women or like to carry a handbag) and does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
  • Capabilities – It already does everything it’s supposed to and does it perfect. There is nothing to change.
  • Range of Books –How could I have forgotten this first time round. It has 5X the amount of books the iBooks bookstore has.

So my final thoughts.

  1. I love my iPad and I am happy I purchased it for the convenience of being able to multi-task like a Gen-Y blogger with all the latest clothes. On a bus I can browse, tweet, blog, watch videos etc. And that is just what I will be doing on my commute too and from work every day.
  2. The Kindle hands down beats the pants off an iPad when it comes to the art of reading. If I want to read for hours on end I will either a) take a book or b) buy a Kindle.

Apple still needs too learn a lot of lessons from Amazon.