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Mar. 22 2010 - 12:31 pm | 67 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Amazon jumps onto the iPad

Amazon has unwrapped its tablet app (“including the iPad” is written in somewhat smaller type). And it’s a fine-looking thing, sleek and vibrant. I wonder, though, if the company isn’t driving another nail into the coffin of its own Kindle, or at least the Kindle as it’s presently conceived. Looking at the colorful 3D effect of the books on the main page, looking even at the static image of the page-curl animation, I find myself wondering why anybody would willingly choose the Kindle’s waxy, dim display to read on. (The caveat, as always: Battery life. You’ll get days on your monochrome Kindle, maybe a day on the iPad.)

You can argue that what the iPad app is really about is access to the Amazon storefront, but Apple’s competitors have tried and failed before to push back against the company’s tight integration between its software and hardware offerings. (Apple doesn’t dominate the download market because of the iPod alone; it dominates the download market because the iPod/iTunes tag team makes it seamlessly easy to get the music from where it lives in the cloud down into your home.) Will Amazon be the first company to successfully fight Apple on its own device? I don’t know. In the meantime, though, the monochrome Kindle looks a lot more like a dinosaur today than yesterday.

(UPDATE: Over on Twitter, Mac developer and thinker Frasier Speirs is even more pessimistic about the Kindle platform than I am, giving it 18 months to live. He may be right at that — once you split the software off from the hardware, the hardware has to stand on its own. And it’s hard to imagine Amazon successfully going head-to-head with Apple in the hardware business.)


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    I'm a writer in Santa Monica, CA. I spent some years at Newsweek and some more writing for TV. My freelance journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Time, Slate, The Boston Globe, Fast Company, Fortune Small Business, Washington Journalism Review, American Journalism Review, American Heritage and TV Guide, and on PBS.

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