Is Apple's tablet a kindle-killer?

Picture 1.jpg

At Gizmodo, Briam Lam writes about the true target of Apple' tablet: readers.

Two people related to the NYTimes have separately told me that in June, paper was approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a "new device." The R&D labs have long worked on versions of the paper meant to be navigated without a keyboard or mouse, showing up on Windows tablets and on multiple formats using Adobe Air. The NYTimes, of course, also publishes via their iPhone application. Jobs has, during past keynotes, called the NYTimes the "best newspaper in the world."

Apple's gamble is that is e-ink isn't all that important to most of us: we are used to glowy LCD screens and our eyes don't need the passive look of paper to enjoy reading. Moreover, it's realized that the Kindle and its kin have a broad potential beyond reading long documents, like novels, where e-ink is a real help. We read an awful lot of little things, and that's the real market.

Apple Tablet To Redefine Newspapers, Textbooks and Magazines [Giz]

Illo: Jesus Diaz.

Published by Rob Beschizza

Follow Rob @beschizza on Twitter.

Join the Conversation


  1. I love my Kindle, but I could also love this iTab if certain conditions were met:

    1. Built-in wireless to access feeds from anywhere I may be – on the bus (not likely), in a park (somewhat likely), at my desk at work (most likely).
    2. Ability to read my Google Reader feeds (for free!) in addition to whatever paid content may strike my fancy.
    3. A “Feedly” style interface for those Google Reader feeds. (The only reason I use Firefox anymore is because the Feedly add-on is so friggin’ AWESOME!)

    Not that anyone cares what I think, but I damn near wet my pants looking at the picture up there, so I figured I’d throw this out to the universe.

  2. I’m skeptical given Apple’s track record on battery life. I work in a lot of coffee shops and no one plugs in their computers as often as Apple owners. The Air seems to be the worst violator. I don’t think there’s a single person who carries an Air and doesn’t also carry the power adapter for it. This seems to be willful negligence on Apple’s part since I have a laptop of roughly Air’s specs, less than 3 pounds and I get 7-8 hours from one charge. (Depending on if I use wifi or not.)

    I can use my kindle to read a couple thousand pages on a charge.

    Sure we’re used to reading glowing screens, but who wants to read on a device that you constantly have to recharge?

    I don’t precisely know what the Apple Tablet will be, and neither does anyone else who comments, but I suspect it will be an elegant, simple to use device without a reason to exist, like the Apple TV.

    And it will have 90 minute battery life. Which is too bad because most people I know spend more than 90 minutes a day browsing the web.

  3. Beschizza’s right on all counts.

    I’ve been saying this for months: Who cares about e-ink except fetishists of bleeding-edge tech? I’ll take the bright, full-color, full-motion display that costs a fraction of the price.

    And who really needs days and days of charge? I recharge my iPhone every night. I have enough trust in Apple’s ability to execute that I don’t think they would bring the tablet to market if its battery would only hold 90 minutes of charge.

  4. eInk matters not because we subjectively prefer it, but because you just can’t physically spend your whole life looking at a screen without some ill effects.

    Besides: do we know for sure that it isn’t eInk on the *back*? 😉

  5. @DSMVWL THS: Let’s hope the planet can withstand your nightly charging pattern indefinitely, and at a growing scale.

  6. Hey Rob,

    For what it’s worth, I did a detailed analysis of what it would mean for Apple to “re-invent” print media in digital form, concluding that Apple has three key things going for it that make it a natural:

    1. A pre-existing 50M device footprint with the iPhone + iPod Touch that provides leverage for a new device;

    2. A proven dynamic platform (read: integrated hardware-software-services-tools) for end-to-end content creation, application development, distribution, and global reach, supported by deep application and media libraries, and a robust runtime space;

    3. A durable billing relationship with consumers to the tune of 100M credit cards on file (iTunes + App Store, Mobile Me).

    Plus, the history of Steve Jobs dating back to Next suggests that this is strategic to him (and thus, Apple), something the post covers:

    Rebooting the Book (One Apple iPad Tablet at a Time)

    Check it out if interested.


  7. I almost always plug my Macbook in if there is a handy outlet near. And it’s not because I’m worried about my battery charge running out. Macbooks, especially the new ones, last a long time on battery power. Besides, the Itablet will most likely have a solid state drive and no CD/DVD drive, both of which are mechanical and suck up a lot of power.

    Also, when is the last time anyone’s Kindle was in colour, or they watched a film/TV on it???

  8. Why should anyone really care about another consumer electronics product from Apple? They are all over-priced, unreliable, and locked down with DRM. End of story. Yeah, they look good, but buying a $400 phone with a very high monthly bill that has poor battery life and a tendency to break will only ever look good to people that really don’t matter. The Kindle sucks too, so it may have a chance. Manufacturers: consumers want something light, durable, intuitive, upgradable, user-customizable, that accepts every known format, provides easy access to web content, and is not crippled by 1990’s business model. Get with it.

  9. Nate, I’m sorry to disappoint but “consumers” want no such thing. They want what’s being sold to them.

    I understand that you (and I!) want all those things you list, but it’s not in the manufacturer’s best interest – the bottom line – to sell us a device like that.

    It will not happen.

  10. This is probably the first product that I’ve ever seen that I fervently, actively, deeply DON’T want to come to market.

    I used to read on a tablet, downloading books from the Baen Free Library and Gutenberg. It was decent, and then I got an ebook reader. The difference to me is without comparison. Without a flickery backlit display, I don’t get headaches reading in bed. I read for longer and feel like I’m reading a real book.

    If this comes out, it will inevitably get popular, because it’s a slick Apple machine. And if they get a deal with publishers, it will kill e-ink as a format, which is a huge loss– at least to me. Perhaps others have different experiences, but you won’t see me doing any kind of real reading on an LCD ever again.

    Listen, I know the drawbacks to my Kindle, and I hate the DRM, but it’s become indispensable to me. It’s light and durable and it has, right now, 60+ books on it, and I can take it anywhere. That’s worth a lot of drawbacks to me. This Apple nonsense is color and has a touchscreen– and none of the other features that makes my Kindle valuable to me.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *