Re the e-reader, the Apple team was apparently given two weeks to put that together, unless I mis-read the transcript. It's made to look as if you're reading a physical book, but there were no words I saw in the live blogging transcripts (Wired, Engadget, CNet) about the e-reader functions for Searches, inline-instantly-accessible dictionary, highlighting, notes, etc.
The Amazon Kindle Store
The article last night from Engadget quoting WSJ: Apple wants e-books to be $12.99 or $14.99...for best sellers turned out to be right.
Steve Jobs wants the publishers to charge more (which is how they will get more from the deal with Jobs) than is charged at Amazon for the bestsellers (!) Then, both publishers and Apple will be happier, but what about the book-buying customers? Why would customers buy from iTunes store or iBook store rather than from Amazon in that case?
Also, if - as Jobs said - the iPad will work with all apps that currently work with the iPod (a great feature) and then the Amazon Kindlestore itself, with its lower prices for best sellers, will be available on the iPad, why would people choose to pay more at the Apple store for a best seller?
I imagine that the Apple store will offer all kinds of bonuses for buying from their store, credits to get this or that. But people tend to go for the best price, direct. Still, Apple customers are very loyal so those may go with the Apple store, but I doubt that very many would.
So, the Amazon Kindlestore would get that many more buying customers -- those who had not bought a Kindle before or who had read Kindle books only on their PCs with the free Kindle for PC app.
E-Reader Dictionary and Annotation Functions
From the photos, the iBook effect is very pretty, but I couldn't see from the photos that it will be sharp and clear in the way an e-paper display (e-Ink and others) is with a screen that's not putting light into your eyes. I guess it'll be left up to developer apps to add the searching and annotation functions? They weren't mentioned and are key.
And those who want a clear e-reader without dictionary or annotation tools can get one for about $200 with the pocketable but very readable Sony PRS-300, though it has no wireless access.
iPad vs the 6" Kindle International
More on the above when I get to Apple's decent pricing for a Web tablet -- but as pricing for an e-reader-plus, the iPad won't threaten the Kindle International ("Global") as the lead e-reader for people who want to read books comfortably (size and clarity of text on screen) at a reasonable price for both the device and the books themselves.
Every day there's a column on the Net written by a columnist who had resisted ereaders for the usual reasons (look, touch, smell) succumbing to the reading experience of the Kindle. People who love to read books are the target audience for the bulk of dedicated e-readers, rather than whose who want to surf and be visually entertained.
The DX, though, will have to be given PDF editing tools and ePub reading capability for it to be chosen in academia, not that there is editing of PDFs for the iPad at the moment either.
We also get a clue as to why the McGraw-Hill exec was so forthcoming in that CNBC interview last night despite non-disclosure agreements normally made and respected. They weren't part of the 5 publishers highlighted today as getting with the entire program, though obviously they'll participate in some way.
iPad vs Netbooks
Some points that come to mind when Steve Jobs put down netbooks (with commenters on the live blogging sites writing back that netbooks are actually faster and more powerful than the iPad w/o a need to buy and carry add-ons to make it more worthwhile):
Jobs isn't targeting business-use laptops but I don't see that most of us who love our small but 10"-screen netbooks will want to get this, as we have 160G to 300G hard drives to store the videos he was showing and a real keyboard plus touchpad to do mousing chores. And it can do many things at once.
List of problems for the iPad vs the netbook audience it wants:
1. No multi-tasking possible
2. No flash (!) for the Web? But Jobs has been adamantly against using it.
3. 1 connection for USB
4. Storage ability not at all great for a WEB device - especially for people with laptop-use like the photographers who thought they could travel with the iPad and store their photos on it while being able to view and edit later at 64G storage, tops, at a cost of $800+.
And still photos do not begin to take the storage space of videos. Video hounds tend to want to keep many videos on at once.
5. Some commenters said it's too big for your pocket, too small for meaningful work or even play.
6. A physical keyboard means extra$ and also extra weight to carry.
For some reason, people did not expect just a giant iPod.
The pricing, as I said, is very good for a web-device if you want one.
From the transcript:
11:22 Here are the options:What's smart, and attractive, is the no-contract price of $15/mo. for 250M of data
Wi-Fi + 3G:
32GB $740 Should be $730
It’ll be shipping in 60 days; 90 days for 3G models.
(but it's a useless amount data for most though a few can stay under that and some will not realize they can't).
Even $30/month for unlimited cellular wireless is good because most netbooks sold on 2-year contracts with Sprint and Verizon (the netbooks are sold for $150 avg) require a $60/mo. for those 2-years for ALMOST unlimited wireless.
This part would be a coup were it not that AT&T who will provide this has been asking users not to use the wireless so much as they can't handle the capacity in a few cities. So what will they do now?
BASE price then, before add-on wireless keyboard, covers, cases, webcam (which almost all notebooks have, built in) for the 3G wireless is $630, with only 16G storage for a device that was shown doing streaming video that some will want to keep (and on their netbooks they can), and a plethora of other things.
So the most PRACTICAL starting point is really 32G at
In the iPad's Favor
A point in the iPad's favor: Most netbooks equipped to have 3G access instead of just WiFi WILL cost $40 (ultra limited access) to $60 per month with the requirement that buyers pay this amount for 2 years. With the iPad there is no contract needed for the lower pricing of $30/mo. for 'unlimited' access (when AT&T is able to handle it).
My Take on the iPad
My take: Elegant Jack of all trades, Master of none in a lighter, but far less flexible package than a netbook. And so far I think it will suffice for e-reading for people who are not that keen on reading entire books often, but who read mainly in spurts and are interested more in newspapers and magazine reading and haven't yet bought an e-reader due to lack of interest.
Those who do want to read many books on one dedicated device but who were waiting to see what the Apple is like before buying an e-reader will look at $259 for a many-featured, efficient e-reader like the Kindle, or the Sony or even the Nook (though the Nook is currently extremely buggy in the most basic operations after update 1.11 and so inefficient that it's hard to say how it will do long-term, but readers who haven't used more direct, capable, and reliable e-readers will enjoy the Nook because it does have the best screen contrast of the e-readers, looks great and is priced well).
The Kindle-Killer hopes
For now, there is still no "Kindle-killer," as many gadgeteers like to say, where the $259 Kindle Int'l is concerned, coming as it does with free 24/7 Net access in the U.S., Japan, HongKong and Mexico for text-based lookups and with, at the least, live Wikipedia access at no cost, globally, in addition to an excellent e-paper reading experience.
The key is with long-session sequential text reading vs the random reading done with newspapers and magazines. LCD screens are not doable for most with that kind of reading focus.
I can leave this low-white-tuned desktop screen bleary-eyed, with almost blurred vision, and go read on the Kindle and then remain awake for hours caught up in the reading, with no strain on the eyes and my vision back to normal.
Amazon needs to work on the Kindle DX to make it more attractive to business and academia.
Again, ePub format support is required as is the editing of PDFs for those two target audiences.
For people like me (and there are many) I favor reading on the DX because of its extremely vivid clarity and the ability to read PDFs very well (web-info is usually offered in PDF format) while it handles illustrations in books with far better detail than the smaller e-readers. The Kindle's annotation tools and webpage support for those annotations + the design of their dictionary use are prime, and it remains to be seen how the iPad will handle these areas later as well as the effect on the eyes for any long-session reading.
That's it for now :-) Comments from others are very welcome, of course.
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