iPad Takes on Ebook Readers
Apple’s new iPad, along with a new app for books and a new digital bookstore announced this week by CEO Steve Jobs, may make a dedicated ebook reader like the Kindle seem like an unnecessary expense. Why buy a single-use device, when you can buy one that combines the computing power of a netbook with the convenience of a connected ebook reader?
Jobs complimented Amazon on its efforts in the ebook reader market – but he can afford to be generous considering today's announcement. “Amazon’s done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle, so we’re going to stand on its shoulders,” Jobs said.
This was a turnaround for Jobs who two years ago dismissed all reading devices, including the Kindle, as a waste of time. “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said.
While the Kindle brought reading back into vogue, the iPad may show consumers they don't need an ebook reader to enjoy a wide range of media in new ways thanks to the iPad's full-color, interactive touch screen in just the right size – bigger than an iPhone, smaller than a MacAir.
The iPad measures 9.5-inches by 7.5-inches, about the same size as a bestselling hardcover book. Sure, you can read on a smartphone, but many consumers complain the screen is too small for reading, even on the iPhone and iPod Touch. On the other end of the spectrum, ebooks are available for the PC and will soon be available through apps on Internet-connected TVs. But like Goldilocks and her dilemma, a phone is too small, a computer monitor and TV may be too big, but the iPad looks just right.
The iPad will start at $499 when it goes on sale at the end of March with a WiFi connection. 3G-capable iPads will follow at the end of April for an additional $130. AT&T will offer monthly 3G service and free AT&T WiFi hotspot use starting at $14.99, no contract required.
Major publishers on board
The new iBook app brings a realistic bookshelf to the screen and opens the door to the iBookstore, Apple's new digital storefront, similar to iTunes and the App Store.
Apple has announced partnerships with Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group. It may also be in negotiations with Random House, the only major publisher left out of yesterday's party.
With its exceptional ebook reader features available with a tap, the iPad may displace ebook readers, or at least give them some competition. As Steve Jobs said last September, "I think the general-purpose devices will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device.”