Apple’s Netbook: The Kindle Killer?

Unless you’re a Luddite or a self-described computer illiterate like presidential hopeful John McCain, you’re likely one of the 73% of US adults who consider themselves active internet users. Add to that the 93% of teens online and you’ve got a majority of us living in an always-on, always-connected culture of participation online.

As such, more of us want to have a robust device with us at all times. Not that the iPhone or other smartphones aren’t meeting more of our needs to be connected and participative, but screen real estate is always key and they’re just too small to do much more than very casual reading, video watching or web application use.

The netbook craze is taking off as people want a bridge product that lies somewhere between a desktop/laptop and a smartphone. A journal replacement that will slip into a slim case and easily with you when you need it. So far, Apple isn’t participating in this space purported to be 50 million units strong by 2012.

As I’ve been using iPhone apps, I came across a free one called Stanza and downloaded it. While most of the books are public domain ones (lots of classics), I could instantly grasp how useful this was and easy to use (though again, pretty small to be an enjoyable reading experience). The next thought was how profound it would be to have a bigger form factor with this iPhone touch interface, color, video, and other media delivering a rich and robust experience.

While Amazon has nailed the Kindle for long form reading, has 180,000+ books, newspapers, magazines, news sites and blogs available, and has facilitated online purchasing and updating wirelessly quite well, I’d never buy one. It’s grayscale and image-persistent (which saves battery as it imprints a temporary page image when you “turn” the page and one is displayed). With one exception at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, I’ve never even seen one! I get around too…and am something of a gadget junkie and have zero desire to own one…and apparently others feel the same way too.

I would love to have a big iPhone-like touch device however. Something that would enable me to do just about everything I do today on my laptop, but with a significantly smaller and much more portable form factor.

I’m not the only one that thinks Apple will debut just such a device. It makes perfect sense, will kill the Kindle IMHO, and will be so simple to use and a must-own device they’ll sell millions of them.

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7 Comments

  1. andy morgan on October 3, 2008 at 7:10 am

    That I could go for. A huge part of my job is simply reading, reviewing and quickly responding. This would be handy for travel, the form factor combined with the touch screen would reduce the gadget space needs in the cramped seats.



  2. Michael Janssen on October 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I also want to have a kindle-like device, but cringe at the thought of owning an actual Kindle – the device just isn’t right for me. However, I saw something neat from DEMO this year and I think the form factor makes it a bit better. Take a look at the Plastic Logic Reader:
    http://www.plasticlogic.com/



  3. JD Stein on October 4, 2008 at 8:04 am

    I’ve owned and used a Kindle everyday since it was released along with both generations of iPhone. I’ve since stopped reading the WSJ and New York Times online and read it on the Kindle.

    The main advantage of the Kindle is no eye strain as there is reading on a LED screen. After working on the computer all day, sometimes it’s nice to read a less intense screen.

    I admit I read alot, upwards of 25 books a year so I am probably the exception. Kindle will most likely remain a niche product, but there is a subset of tech saavy readers with sensitive eyes. At least 3 dozen of them.

    For heavy readers, a side benefit of the Kindle is being able to sample books. Sure most books are only $9.99 but you can also capture 80% of an author’s message by just reading the introduction and part of the first chapter, which are sent to you free.



  4. JD Stein on October 4, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Sorry to hog your comment board, but the other advantage of Kindle and the hesitancy I would have with an Apple made Kindle killer is while the Apple would no doubt be more elegant, I’d fear it wouldn’t be stable.

    The Kindle just works. In 10 plus months of constant use I have to do a restart it only twice when it froze. My iPhone crashes multiple times a day and last time I installed an OS update it took me three hours because it bricked my phone. I’ve had the same experience with my Powerbook.



  5. Jim Kingsepp on October 10, 2008 at 10:23 am

    John McCain isn’t a luddite. He’s a cripple. Let’s be fair.



  6. Rennie on February 5, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Absolutely lets definitely have a paper back sized apple kindle killer and a nano sized 3g iphone pearl killer and then we have some decent formats…..



  7. PXLated on February 27, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Jim K. – To be fair, McCain is both.



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