Wednesday, February 11, 2009

iPhone and Kindle; Apples and Oranges

With Google's Book Project going mobile, a lot of media outlets and blogger are trying to pass off the idea that the iPhone could actually be considered a competitor in the eReader market (1,2,3). This has no chance of happening for the following two reasons:

Battery life - I don't know about you, but when I'm reading a book, I usually read for an hour or two. Do you think your iPhone or Google Android based phone has enough juice to continuously power the display for that long? The Kindle consumes very little power, giving you days (not hours) of reading time.

Screen size - You can get away with video on a phone, but no one wants to read that much text on a 3.5 inch or smaller screen. Add the back-lit screen, and your eyes are going to tire quickly. Kindles paper ink technology means no glare, and the screen is about the size of a paperback page.

While I'm sure we'll see great sales for iPhone eReader app developers, we won't see any drop in marketshare from Amazon's Kindle. Avid book readers who are thinking of going digital want something that still maintains the legibility, capacity, and sustain of an actual book. Mobile apps are going to see high sales, followed by little usage.

It's safe to say that phones aren't going to make any significant strides in digitizing print industries unless they can tackle those obstacles. While I think the kindle is overpriced for the features it offers (take away the wireless feature, have it sync to your computer, and they could be offering it for a whole lot less), it's the best bet technology has in directly porting the written word to a screen.

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