In the emerging industry of eBook readers and digital content, Amazon has set its sights on Apple, which plans to release the iPad in the coming weeks. The world waits while dominance over the eBook industry will be fought over by these two behemoths, while companies like Sony fight for their share of the market.
With every emerging industry in the tech sector, there are going to be casualties of war. There’s a long list of technology battles waged in the past where companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars all for naught. Amazon and Apple have huge investments tied into the Kindle and iPad, respectively. Their profitability in 2010 may hinge on the success of each company’s prized product.
In the past, we’ve seen this play out. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a war for the standard format of the at-home video player. On one side was Beta and on the other was VHS, with the general public adopting VHS technology. When high-definition content became available, it was once again time to move to a new format, with HD DVD going against Sony’s BluRay technology. Many felt that 1080i and the lesser technology in HD DVD would be the way the market would go because it would be cheaper, but in the end, BluRay and its superior quality at 1080p won the day.
Right now, there are two major players in the eBook business, Sony and Amazon. Given the company’s internet business and slightly cheaper price point, many experts believe that Amazon is clearly winning this battle. There are two units that Amazon has available: the regular Kindle, which offers a 6” display at $259, and the Kindle DX, which has a 9.7” screen which sells for $489. Both devices connect to a 3G network without added cost to the user. Many of the books available for purchase come at a hefty discount over the printed editions and are immediately sent wirelessly to the device after purchase without any work from the user. Consumers are also able to load their Word or PDF files, making the unit extremely useful for both business and pleasure.
Apple will be releasing the iPad in the first week of April, with the base unit starting at $499 and topping out with a fully featured model at $829. Obviously, the functionality of the iPad is far and away better than what a Kindle can do. Then there’s the huge elephant in the room, the giant beautiful screen that Apple will give you, while Amazon’s is a non-glare non-lit monotone colored screen. There are clear pluses to the iPad’s screen in that it is bigger, clearer, and in color. On the other side of the coin, Amazon’s screen is said to be close to “zero impact” on eyes.
Apple has quite a few advantages over the Kindle, which is a great device in its own right. However, there’s simply no comparison between the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle DX when you realize there’s just a $10 different in price. Both Apple and Amazon have excellent distribution networks for the content for each device, so that’s a wash. Nevertheless, who in their right mind would buy a Kindle DX when so many more features and uses can be had on Apple’s iPad?
The eBook reader wars officially begin between Amazon and Apple in April, with one company already poised to crush the other. Stay tuned.