iPad v Kindle – No Competition?

Earlier in the year when the iPad was announced and released, and with Apple struggling to fulfil demand, people were writing the Kindle off – another device that had got to market first and been beaten by Apple.

Strange as it may seem when the brand name iPod is interchangeable with MP3 player, there was a time when Apple wasn’t in the MP3 player market, indeed many pundits thought they were nuts to produce one (these are the same pundits who thought they were nuts to produce a smartphone, and nuts to produce a tablet PC of course), but produce one they did, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Pundits could clearly see the Kindle going the same way. Amazon had produced a Kindle application for the iPad and iPhone, and it almost seemed like admitting defeat.

Roll forward a few months and everything is looking a bit different. Amazon have released the next generation Kindle, and much like the iPad before it, they are again selling as fast as they can be produced.

It is an attractive package.

For a fraction of the cost of an iPad – the most expensive Kindle is only £149, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad, and a fifth of the going rate for the most expensive 64Gb 3G iPad – Amazon have produced a smaller, lighter device with an amazing claimed battery life of a month, throwing in free 3G international data, and even a web browser. Not surprisingly the pundits are now suggesting that the Kindle is ready to trounce the iPad, lining the two devices up for a competition.

But is there really a competition?

When you look at the Kindle, yes it may have a built in browser, but it is a very limited and basic browser – about enough to check your e-mail. Providing free 3G for full scale web browsing is clearly not the intention, and to be honest is not something Amazon could afford for any length of time. Quite apart from that, I doubt anybody would accept browsing in black and white these days. This is clearly a device built primarily for reading text, and as such with a fantastic e-Ink screen it’s ideal.

Whilst yes, the iPad has iBooks, and Steve Jobs made a big thing about it at launch, the iPad is not just an eBook reader. Yes you can use it as that, but you’re seriously underusing the device. The powerful processor and colour screen offer much more flexibility and power, so you can do things with books that a Kindle cannot – check out the Alice in Wonderland or Cat in the Hat apps in the app store for example. The Kindle can’t play games like the ever popular Angry Birds. You haven’t got an equivalent of iWork, Photoshop or any of the other popular apps. You’re not going to be able to watch a movie on a Kindle.

So there you have it no competition. Or should that be no competition? The two devices are pitching at totally different markets, the competition is entirely artificial. The iPad is much more of a general purpose device that just happens to be able to show eBooks. The Kindle on the other hand is a device designed primarily to read text, and does it fantastically well.

If you’re wanting to just read books, the choice is clear, don’t waste your money on an iPad, I’d be heading for the Kindle. If you’re wanting a more general purpose tablet device, get yourself an iPad, and thanks to the free Amazon app you can read your Kindle books on that too.

Kindles are available exclusively from Amazon, with iPads available from a number of stores both bricks and mortar and online. The links below will take you to the relevant pages on Amazon, and purchasing through these will help with the costs of running this site.

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