Amazon's Kindle doesn't hold a candle to the iPhone/iPod

Amazon announced their highly- anticipated Ebook reader dubbed "Kindle" today.  Coming in at $399, it has some really good functionality, including:

  • Thumb keyboard
  • EVDO
  • 30 hour battery life
  • 2 hour recharge time
  • 10.3 ounces
  • 4.9 inches x 7.5 inches x 0.7 inches, 800×600 pixel
  • SD Slot for storage (from early specs)
  • USB 2.0 (from early specs)
  • Uses E Ink technology (high contrast display  – needs no backlighting)
  • Adjustable Font size
  • Can hold over 200 books
  • Can search books for phrase or name
  • 3.5 stereo headphone jack

Even with all of that it looks to us like it is going to be a really hard to justify this thing.  Why?  Because most of this functionality already exists in a product already out in the marketplace called the iPod touch.  The iPhone features add even more to this.  The books metaphors aren’t enough to switch us.  The E-ink technology is the only redeeming technology and it looks to be something exciting for people outdoors or with little access to power.  Overall though, we aren’t looking for another device to add to the man-purse.

When you compare the hardware, its not even close.  The iPod is thinner and about 1/3 the area but with more than 2/3rds of the screen – and more importantly it is something you can put in your pocket.  The screen is really easy to read (although the Kindle has a low voltage high contrast screen that will stay legible longer).  The Kindle’s ability to resize fonts won’t impress anyone who has pinched and panned on an iPod.  More importantly, the iPhone allows you to do many other functions – without carrying ten devices around with you.  While the Kindle is going to have an underpowered browser, the iPhone has a full Webkit Safari.

When you start getting into Youtube and Photos and Email it isn’t even fair.  Its like putting together the best high schoolers from around the nation and playing them against the New England Patriots. 

Those who have hacked their iPods and iPhones know there is a REALLY good Ebook reader aptly called "Books".  In hacked form it offers most of the features that Amazon’s Kindle offers.

The iPod comes in at less than the Kindle with much more RAM at $299, the iPhone and 16gb iPod match the Kindle’s $399 pricetag.

What still could be a winner for Amazon is the software and backend system they use to distribute the millions of books they have in their library (88,000) at launch.   While music and video content markets are quickly being cornered, the Ebook sales industry is still in its infancy.   Hopefully, Kindle turns into a service and hits all of the other hundreds of devices out there.  We love Amazon and wish them the best, but its hard to justify this type of device when a better one already exists and does much much more.

 Jeff Bezos sums it up best: "This isn’t a device, it’s a service."

Update: Forbes is thinking the same thing

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