Monday, April 12, 2010

Why is the media obsessed with an iPad vs Kindle battle?

On my Google reader there are numerous book and ebook blogs that I follow, as well as feeds for Kindle-related stories that appear on the web. I hadn't checked it for a few days and this morning I had about 350 posts to read through. I simply couldn't believe how many were about Kindle Vs iPad, or iPad will be death of Kindle etc.

Seriously? I really don't see how you can get so gung-ho about why a $500 tablet is so much better than a$250 dedicated ebook reader. They are different beasts with a few things in common. Why are they really being compared? I'm not really getting reasons for these warring articles that I see online.

For example, many of us chose to buy a Kindle (instead of, say, reading our ebooks on a laptop or iPhone) for specific reasons, and we don't all need all of our gadgets to be multi-functional. When I bought my Kindle, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had dictionary look-up, internet access, let me check my email and played MP3s. I would have been plain old thrilled if it just let me read my ebooks. I didn't want more functions because a) they would cost more, and more importantly b) interfere with my number one purpose in buying one: download a book wherever I am, even as a passenger in a car on the freeway without WiFi, and read it on a non-reflective easy-to-read page-like screen.

So, let's see why this is all so silly? Would you tell a motorcycle rider that the future of his bike is doomed because the 7-seater minivan was invented, and his  kids can't fit on his bike and he can't drive it through a snow storm? Or that a photographer should never buy another camera because your phone can take pictures and 30 seconds of video? Or that your teenage Boy Scout is daft to ask for a simple penknife for his birthday when instead, he could have a $200 multifunctional 80-gadget Swiss Army xavt special? Forget that all he needs is something for a bit of whittling, dammit!  There's something out there that does more!

Enough already. The iPad looks great and I am sure many people who buy one will love it. But please, please, enough with the pant-wetting excitement! Next year something else will be the Hot New Thing and everyone will be queuing up 3 days in advance to buy one of them. Face it, some of us love our Kindles. Some of us will buy both, and some will be devoutly loyal to one company over another. C'est la vie! And that's how it should be. Heaven forbid one should "win" the battle completely and we end up with an iMonopoly. Ugh!

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