One of the biggest question marks that is left hanging over the release of the iPad is how its backlit screen will affect eye strain. There is a reason that both Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook went with eInk because it is supposed to be easier on the eyes. Well, with the reviews of the iPad coming out, this has been addressed, and Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal took this issue head on:
I also found iBooks, Apple’s book reader and store, easy to use, and read a couple of books on it. I consider the larger color screen superior to the Kindle’s, and encountered no eye strain. But the iPad is much heavier than the Kindle and most people will need two hands to use it. The iBooks app also lacks any way to enter notes, and Apple’s catalog at launch will only be about 60,000 books versus more than 400,000 for Kindle.
While Mr. Mossberg does correctly point out the difference in the store sizes, does it really matter with the Kindle and Nook apps coming to the iPad? The Kindle app is already out there, and the Nook shouldn’t be too far behind, and as I said in my previous post, it makes no real sense why both companies seem to almost be handing the e-reader crown to Apple with these apps.
At any time any of the companies, Apple included, could pull the apps from the App Store, but Apple would have no real reason to as this could bolster sales of the actual device, even if it does hurt its book sales. On the flip side, if Amazon or Barnes & Noble find their sales slacking off too much, they could also pull their respective applications from the store.
The question is going to become are e-reader sales about the hardware, or are the devices merely conveyances for the content? This is the situation in the video game market, with companies like Sony actually taking a large loss on the Playstation 3 when it first launched as the company makes up the difference in the sales of the games.
So long as these applications remain on the iPad, it looks as though Apple may become the king of the eBook reader market. Already some analysts are calling for Amazon to drop the price of the Kindle, and that may be the only way for other companies to save their readers. Of course, if this does happen, it could actually end up being the consumers who win across the board as you have the option of (Apple’s) combined reader, or you can go for a single store reader that you can pick up for a comparatively dirt cheap price.
What say you? Has Apple just become the King of eReaders?