Amazon's just revealed its iPad Kindle reader version. The app will be available on other tablet PCs too, but the iPad is the hottest kid on the block, and it'll likely sell by the ton. Knowing this, we wonder: Did Amazon just kill its Kindle E-reader?
Amazon's getting wise to Apple tech, at last, and it even released a Kindle reader app for Macs last week—conceding that its erstwhile arch-rival Apple's computers are now a serious player in the consumer PC space. But the big reveal of "Kindle Apps For Tablet Computers" is a dead giveaway: It proves Amazon is afraid of Apple, because the company even felt the need to append "Including the iPad" at the end of that title.
The blurb about the app is straightforward, for the most part—noting that, just as for the other platforms the Kindle reader works on, Whispersync is still intact, and will keep track of where you are in a book, along with your notes and highlights, no matter which device you last used to read it with. It also explains that you can tweak the display settings and font size and color to optimize the reading experience—there's even a tiny little dig at the supposedly inferior-for-reading LCD tech that tablets use, since Amazon notes this display adjustability is to "ease eye strain." Subtext for this: "Our e-ink display is actually better."
But really, Amazon's most surprising sentence in the PR spiel is this one: "Get the best reading experience available on your tablet computer including the iPad. No Kindle required." Say what, Amazon? We don't need to buy your surprisingly expensive proprietary hardware, with its 1980's school calculator design, slow-updating gray-scale screen, and frightfully limited secondary tasks like Web browsing? Oh that's very generous of you. Thank goodness we can still read your e-books on a tablet PC, with color screen and improved imagery, the capability for really smart, dynamic, interactive e-book content thanks to better graphics powers, and the ability to also surf the Web, play games, make a Skype call, and watch a movie.
Even the graphic for the iPad's Kindle App front page gives the game away: Something as simple as choosing which of your Kindle titles to read is going to be much more satisfying on an iPad.
So is Amazon killing its own Kindle hardware? Almost...at least for the current generation of device. We've heard a few tantalizing rumors about the next-gen Kindle, which may be able to compete on technical grounds with at least some of the benefits offered by a Tablet PC. But the Kindle 4 is still ages away, and in the interim, Apple's likely to sew up the Tablet market with the iPad, and competing e-bookstores like Barnes and Noble's—also likely to be accessible via an iPad app—will make serious dents in Amazon's market dominance. And while Amazon's leading the e-ink e-reader charge, the competition will also likely suffer at Apple's hands. 2010 may indeed be the only year of the e-reader.
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