What Apple and Amazon Job Ads Reveal About the iPad-Kindle Battle Ahead

iPad Kindle

Both Amazon and Apple have new advertisements for job openings at their companies that, if you read into the details just a little, give away many a detail on the upcoming Kindle versus iPad conflict. It's going to be very interesting.

First up, and most surprising if you're an e-ink fanatic, is that one of Amazon's new jobs is for a "hardware display manager." That title isn't particularly revealing, but get this: The specific expertise Amazon's looking for—at a senior level—is in "the LCD business" where you must know the "key players in the market." There are also two different advertisements for experts in wireless technology.

And you know what that adds up to, particularly when you remember Amazon also just bought a touchscreen manufacturer? It means that much of what we suggested about the future design of the Kindle 3 may soon come true. Amazon looks like it'll be giving the next Kindle proper WiFi, which implies better Net surfing powers, a touchscreen (finally ditching that awful keypad), and yes, you guessed it, an LCD screen—probably in color. We've noted before that e-ink, in its current guise, may be great at displaying plain text, but it's appalling at the quick-change pixel rates needed for Web browsing, let alone video. And this suggests a radical transformation of the Kindle into more of a multi-function slate PC, which is clearly in response to the coming tide of tablet PCs of all shapes and sizes.

But mainly Amazon is reacting to the Apple iPad (and emulating Apple's business model). And in that regard, here's something else to chew on: Apple itself is advertising for a new employee. It's specifically looking for a quality assurance expert to work in the iPad Media Systems team, and if you're interested in applying you'll have to demonstrate "knowledge of digital camera technology (still and video)" and "familiarity with and interest in photography, video as well as media file formats".

And given what we know about the suspicious camera space inside the iPad chassis, which almost perfectly fits the Webcam units currently used inside MacBooks, this has us wondering whether the iPad really does have a camera—or it did have one that was removed at the last minute, or if Apple's now planning for the iPad 2.0 to have really advanced image collecting powers.

Clearly both companies have an eye on the near future development of their portable tech, and unlike more traditional media channels it's harder to hush-up what's revealed in job placements—which you also have to have in place way ahead of time if you're to successfully recruit people at the right point in a product's development. Amazon looks like it's not going to surrender the Kindle's crown without a fight, and upstart Apple is already looking at next-gen technology to include in its newest all-singing, all-dancing slate device. Regardless of what happens in the next few months when the iPad launches, how these two giants are going to slug it out is going to make for some very interesting news.

[Via Electronista, MacRumors]

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  • Michael Shoemaker

    @Scott Koon... Right on. It does look more and more like Kindle is moving the way of the iPad, but that would be a fatal mistake. With the Kindle they have an optimized device (despite the terrible keyboard) with unique capabilities (great battery life, super low maintenance, incredibly easy to use) that cater to Amazon's strengths (and Apple's relative weakness) in books and that they can offer at a relatively disruptive price. If they offer an iPad wannabe, they will likely get slaughtered, and the bibliophiles among us will be the worse for it.

    I say let Apple pursue the high-end multi-media tablet market, much like what they have done in PCs and, as Amazon, try to cement your place as the de-facto standard for inexpensive, optimized eReaders.

  • Scott Koon

    Also, while I love my Iphone, the battery life is awful. My Kindle on the other hand has done over 5 days of multi-hour reading on a single charge. The shame is that by trying to compete with iPAD, Kindle might loose what I think is its most valuable assets. The truth is, on a trip I often leave my multi-purpose laptop behind, because without extra batteries, or a guaranteed outlet, I'll only get 4 hours of use out of it. I rarely leave my kindle at home--even though it is just an "ebook reader" because I know I can use it for days and I hate carrying around 15 books.

  • david duperre

    Talk about your biased articles. First off you show a Kindle 2 in vertical mode only next to a flashy iPad showing both vertical and horizontal views. In case you don't know the Kindle2 had a firmware update so you can now view in horizontal mode. Also would have been more fair to show the Kindle DX which is the larger screen. That said, you guys are still trying to compare apples to oranges. The Kindle is a book reader. Period. I don't want it to surf, play videos or anything else. The Kindle 2 is small enough to carry on buses, trains, airplanes etc without being to obtrusive or bulky to use while standing up. Also discreet enough to use on the buss that some hoodlum wouldn't try to snatch and run out the back door with it. Peronally i like it while i'm on lounging by the pool, laying on my stomach on a chaise lounge, the Kindle lays flat and i just press the button to advance the page, no wind blowing pages or eye strain involved. Also forgotten in most reviews is that the Kindle has no MONTHLY ACCESS charge, that alone is worth the trade off on any grander full web Color crapola you keep trying to add to it. It has basic FREE web access, while not good for video or graphic intense sites its great for wikipedia or text based sites. Did I mention that was FREE! In conclusion the Kindle is not a tablet and the tablet is not an ereader. Perhaps Amazon is working on a new product to supplement their line up and compete with iPad but leave my KINDLE ALONE.

  • Dan S.

    Wow, what a contrast when you see them side by side, like in the image above. Right now, they're in totally different leagues -- one reminds me of a late 80's PC & the other actually looks like it "belongs" in today's world.

    Kurt hit the nail on the head though... "And in the end, the Kindle is going to look like the iPad. And the iPad will come with a zillion apps. Mmm, who to bet on?"

  • Andre Straker

    One more thing... when are magazines like "Fast Company", Inc and Entrepreneur going to offer digital editions????

  • Andre Straker

    Amazon sells books, they should stick to books. At this point, Kindle is a potential player on the iPad. Kindle for iPhone and PC allows us to draw such a conclusion.

    However Apple has a tendency to ban applications that duplicate native Apple applications.

    Will Apple remove Kindle and other e-book related applications for the iPad (and possibly the iPhone)?

  • David Dawson

    @Gary, the only question is why you would sacrifice the functionality of the iPad's other uses in favor of a "dedicated" device that really doesn't offer a better experience. Especially if the Kindle goes in the direction of LCD screen tech, I can't imagine their UI will be better than Apple's, and they'll be using the same technology. In order to convince the public to buy the Kindle, Amazon will have to make the user experience somehow better, or cheaper, than the iPad.

    Your analogy would be a good point if the iPad's eReader capacity was actually of lesser quality than the Kindle's, like a Swiss Army knife isn't as great of a knife as a hand-made fixed blade. In reality, it seems to me that the iPad is exactly the same quality of "knife" as the Kindle, but with added functionality built into the handle. Or at least it would seem to be. We'll have to wait for its debut to find out.

  • Gary Stafford

    I feel both the iPad and the Kindle are fantastic products in their own right. To me, a head-to-head comparison of the two products is unfair to either. The Kindle is a book reader, optimized for that specific task. The iPad is a general purpose electronic media device, with the capability to display books, albeit not as eloquently, but also accomplish many tasks for the user.
    I see the comparison between the iPad and the Kindle like comparing a fine, hand-made fixed-blade knife to a Swiss Army folding-knife with twenty fold-out tools. Both can cut, however the hand-made knife is much more accurate and easier to cut with. On the other hand, the folding knife, with all its tools can drive a screw, open can of beans, and cut relatively well. Each is suited a particular purpose or user.
    I believe people who find reading to be their primary form of entertainment will find the Kindle more useful, while the user who enjoys many types of media, equally, such as books, photography, video, audio, and online gaming, will gravitate toward the iPad over the iTouch or similar product.

  • Kit Eaton

    @Kurt. I have to admit, I think it doesn't look too good for the Kindle--especially outside the U.S., where the iPad may well follow the iPhone as a global success
    @Jun. Indeed!

  • Jun Mhoon

    Great. I think both Apple and Amazon need to hire lots or young product testers as well as senior product testers before these new products drop. They need to also show how they can give back to a new generation of people who will always be loyal to one or the other and sometimes both products. The world sees things different than people who live in the S valley.

  • Kurt Gielen

    And in the end, the Kindle is going to look like the iPad. And the iPad will come with a zillion apps.
    Mmm, who to bet on?