Amazon’s Kindle vs. Apple’s iPad. Are they competitors or unlikely allies? Dez Morgan compares the 2 devices and gives his take on the situation.
This is Dez here still reporting solo from Abu Dhabi where you would never have known there’ve been disturbances on the streets in the neighboring countries of Oman and to a much lesser extent Saudi Arabia.
I have been following all of the news on the BBC and increasingly Al Jazeera which has a service in English. Many people have heard of the Al Jazeera Arabic channel but may not know that there is also comprehensive coverage of the news in English too. With a centre in Doha, Qatar as well as in London, it is interesting to hear the news from a different perspective. I also have great access to newspapers and magazines through subscriptions on my Kindle E-reader. I treated myself last month to a Kindle from Amazon, which as I travel quite a bit is great. It holds over 3000 books in a space smaller and lighter than a paperback. I don’t want you to think that Skip and I have started to take money for product placements here on D2B but I must say that the Kindle has a been a really useful travelling companion. I’ve been getting The Times downloaded every morning and The Economist weekly. Not to mention all of the books I have also been reading.
Which leads me to our story today; The Kindle vs. The iPad; competitors or unlikely allies and the future of digital print media.
The story starts over a year ago when Apple introduced its eBook software for the iPad at the end of January 2010. So sure was Steve Jobs that the iPad would render the Kindle redundant that he had this to say at the launch, “Amazon’s done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a little further.”
Moving on a year and a half or so, has that happened? Has the iPad effectively replaced the Kindle as the e-book reader of choice? I think we can answer that with a simple question and answer. What was the best seller on Amazon in the first quarter of the year? I think you can probably guess the answer if you don’t already know it. It was indeed the latest model Kindle the one that even I parted with my hard earned money for and I had been saying for years that I couldn’t imagine ever giving up paper.
So, why isn’t the Kindle an also ran, as on the surface it looks like no contest. The first criticism leveled against the Kindle is that it doesn’t do much more than let you read text on its screen. True, it does have a web browser but it’s pretty basic in nature. In contrast, because the iPad uses the same operating system as the iPhone, there are over 140,000 apps available for it. There is even a Kindle app that was designed for the iPhone so naturally also works on the iPad. This gives iPad users access to all of Amazon’s catalogue as well as through Apple’s own iBook titles.
To further add to the versatility of the iPad, publications are able to interface with the iTunes service to offer a truly multi-media experience. Imagine you’re reading a book with optional background music chosen to enhance the experience. Furthermore magazines and newspapers are soon to be coming out that are designed specifically for the iPad with multimedia plug-ins and other additional content which proponents of the iPad say will revolutionise the way we get and interact with the news.
All of this may be true but there are things that the Kindle does better than the iPad.
Price, the smaller 6-inch display Kindle is considerably cheaper than the iPad at less than half the cost of even the most basic iPad.
Display. The Kindle’s E-Ink display looks more like paper and can be read even in direct sunshine, something that the iPad with its backlit display, like a regular computer, cannot compete with. The Kindle comes with free, 3G coverage over most of the world. So if you found yourself on holiday without enough books it’s an easy feat to download a book without having to worry about roaming charges or finding an internet café. The cheapest 3G plan for the iPad costs 14.95 in the U.S. and a similar figure in Pounds in the UK.
Finally, and most importantly, the Kindle’s batteries last so much longer than even the second generation iPad’s 10 hour battery life. Amazon claim that it is possible to take a weeks holiday without needing to worry about recharging, which in my view is a bit optimistic. But a few days is certainly possible for even the biggest readers among us.
To conclude it is probably fair to say that the iPad and the Kindle are in reality not competitors at all. The case is horses for courses. With those wanting to carry a library around with them in digital form and not much else, being better served by the Kindle. And those looking for the additional features of Internet connectivity and the ability to watch recorded videos being better served by the iPad. The best choice of course for those with deeper pockets would be to pack one of each. The Kindle for reading at the beach and the iPad to contact friends back home on Skype and tell them about this great E-book that you just read.
The story doesn’t end there however as Google has recently opened its own E-book store designed to be read on Android equipped phones and computers with the big question being will Google take customers from Apple, Amazon or indeed both? All I know is I will probably be reading about it in The Times, well The Kindle Edition that is.
So that was our story and now it’s time to get D2V, Down to Vocabulary.
Our first word today is the business expression made up of the nouns product and placement which means when TV shows or films are paid to show or place a product and so advertise it. In the show I joke about Down to Business English accepting money to feature and advertise certain products. A further more famous example is the range of products that are included in James Bond films because of product placement. I know that many Bond fans were very unhappy to see their hero driving a BMW without realizing that the reason for the choice was product placement.
Next I have a compound also ran which comes from horse racing and means the horse that also ran in the race but had very little chance of winning. In the story I talk about the Kindle being an also ran meaning that in comparison to the iPad many people felt it had very little chance of succeeding. Another example would be in sports. The player or team that has very little chance of winning the title. Much though it pains me to say it, I’m fairly sure that will be Chelsea’s role this season.
Next up is a noun proponents, which means those who are in support of something. Conversely the people who are against it are referred to as detractors. In the story I mention the proponents of the iPad, or those who are in favour of it. They say that it will revolutionise the delivery of news. A further example would be when a company is discussing changing its strategy there are proponents of change and detractors. BP’s recent move into Russia had its fair share of both, proponents and detractors.
Now we have the verb to roam which means to walk or drive around extensively, covering a lot of ground. In the story I used it as the adjective roaming with the noun charges which means the additional amount people pay when they are outside their usual mobile phone or 3G coverage area. Roaming charges in Europe used to be much more expensive a few years ago until governments intervened stating that customers were being overcharged.
Next I have the expression horses for courses which like also ran is connected to horse racing and means that one type of horse is better than another one on a specific type of circuit. Used as an idiom it means that neither decision is better than the other merely that each decision is better suited to a certain outcome. In the story I argue that the iPad is not superior to the Kindle but rather that is better for some purposes than the Kindle and vice versa. An example from business might be allowing people to have some choice in their company cars so that each person gets a car best suited to their needs or indeed, horses for courses.
Finally I have the idiom to have deep pockets which literally means to have bigger pockets so that the wearer can get all of his or her money in them. In the story I say that consumers with more money or deeper pockets might choose to buy both a Kindle and an iPad. It is often said that when a company has a lot of cash on its books, it has deep pockets and is looking for another to take over or acquire.
Well that is all I have time for today on vocabulary. I hope that some of these words and expressions prove useful to you in your daily and business lives.
Don’t forget to download the audio script and read along with the story which you can download from Down to Business English. That’s www.downtobusinessenglish.com.
You can contact me at www.twitter.com/dezmorgan and Skip can be found at www.twitter.com/skipmontreux. Please also check out our Down to Business English page on Facebook.
And that’s Bye for now.