iPad – a Device between a phone and a notebook?

In the end, in Display Monitor this week, we went with the media flow and decided to report the Apple iPad story, although we remain unconvinced that its importance is as huge as Apple and its many fans have made it (oops! ed.) It’s basically a bigger iPod Touch, as far as we can see and, as Andy has said in the past in the publication, the tablet form has a lot of disadvantages compared to notebooks or phones.

I seem to be the only one that remembers that, back in 2001 when Palm was on the rise, Jobs said that there really wasn’t room for something between the smartphone and the notebook. Jobs had, of course, killed off Apple’s own Newton PDA project around that time. As I’m writing this, while the rest of the issue is in the production process, we hear that Apple has now sold 450,000 iPads in the first week. Given the limits and complaints about wifi, that’s not bad at all.

Jobs has been quoted as saying that there is no market for an eBook, although he appears to have revised that view and, in the end, the iPad may be the first eBook with colour and video. I think that it’s too heavy, the battery life is too short and it must have 3G like the Kindle to really work in that application, but all of those issues should be solved over time. Amazon has the same kind of ‘closed service’ approach to the Kindle as Apple had to music using iTunes. Others, including Microsoft and Sony, failed to dent Apple’s early mover advantage in music and it’s not clear to me that Apple can dislodge Amazon, but it’s not impossible.

One of the frustrations of owning a Kindle, to me, has been that of the books that I’ve thought ‘that would be good to read’ over the few weeks that I’ve had the device, only a few have been available as Kindle downloads. Some are new and not yet available (so at least I can add them to my wishlist), some have not been put into Kindle format (mostly older titles or out of print editions) but the ones that have really frustrated me are where publishers have made different deals in the US than in the UK. Because the Kindle system is run via, rather than by the local subsidiary, the website offers titles that you cannot download because your account is based outside the US. That is really, really frustrating and annoying! I suspect that over time this kind of limitation may go away, but for now I’ll just curse.

The bizarre side effect of this is that I have recently bought more paper books, as having a Kindle has stimulated the desire to read the title but does not allow that desire to be fulfilled. Now I just need the time to read the ever growing pile!

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