Tag Archives: e-reader

The Kindle is dead, long live the Kindle

I’ve been complaining (whining) about the Kindle for some time now.  My main argument was that with the impending emergence of netbooks and tablets (which weren’t out yet when I started this thread), a dedicated “e-reader” was pointless and destined to fall by the wayside.  It was clearly a stepping stone to devices that offered an e-reader as just another piece of software on a device that was capable of far more.

Amazon has now released the Kindle Fire, a color tablet that is based on the Android OS rather than their proprietary Kindle OS, just as I told them to.  The world doesn’t need another OS, and Amazon doesn’t need to waste money designing one, so they’re much better off leveraging Google’s OS and adding the Kindle software on top of it.

While Amazon is still offering Kindle dedicated e-readers, it seems clear that the Fire will be Amazon’s focus going forward, and the dedicated e-reader platform will probably be de-emphasized and fall by the wayside as tablets get cheaper and the price difference between tablets and dedicated e-readers approaches zero.

So to Amazon, I say well done: you’re focusing on what you’re good at and providing a reasonably full-featured tablet at a very competitive price.  Will it put pressure on the iPad?  Probably not a lot because it will be the category leader for the foreseeable future, but clearly the race to the bottom for tablet prices has started, just as it did for PCs a few years ago.

NookColor: First of the iPad Challengers

If you’ve read my blog at all over the past couple of years, you know how unenthusiastic I am about e-readers in general, and the Kindle specifically. Today, Barnes and Noble introduced their new reader, the NookColor, and it’s a huge leap forward that should help them gain significant market share.

The NookColor is, of course, full color, but also important, it features:

  • A web browser
  • Support for digital music files
  • Support for MP4 video files (I’d like to see more codecs supported, but it’s a start)
  • Android OS
  • Its own app store, so presumably most Android apps will work with it, although B&N will  curate the offerings
  • 8GB of internal memory, with a Micro-SD slot that can support up to another 32GB
  • A mini-USB port
  • Wifi

All that, for the low, low price of…$249.  You read that right.

James McQuivey of Forrester Research talked a little today about how this new Nook will affect the Sony and Amazon offerings, but what I want to know is how it will affect the iPad.  If you read through that feature list above, it matches the iPad almost feature-for-feature, although it surely has a slower processor, and of course wouldn’t sync with iTunes.  (Personally I find iTunes bloated and slow, and can’t stand using it anyways, so no loss there.)

So the question is will people keep shelling out $600+ for Apple’s iPad?  If so, why?  The prestige?  The “cool factor”?  Because they’ll only buy Apple products?

The NookColor really hits the sweet spot, and is a sign of things to come.  It caters to those of us to don’t read enough to justify a dedicated e-reader (most Americans, I’m guessing), and to those of us who think the iPad just isn’t useful enough to justify the price (I don’t think I’m alone there, either.)  The NookColor is actually the first e-reader or tablet that has piqued my interest as having sufficient functionality at a reasonable price point.  And it doesn’t look half-bad, either.

I don’t think B&N has the marketing chops to take on Apple, but I think the NookColor is the first in a string of low-end tablet/readers we’ll see come out in the next year or two that will turn tablets into a commodity product, like netbooks.  At their current pace, Apple may see the iPad get Mac’ed in the not-too-distant future.  Its cost and closed nature will relegate the iPad to a niche market of customers who will spend significantly more for the sense of style and status that Apple products bring with them, but the mass market will yet again pass Apple by.  Incidentally, Android phones are selling faster than iPhones these days, too…