Editor’s note: this contribution is from Scott G. Lewis, whose blog is The Lewis Four. PB
I don’t think it’s as simple to say that an Apple tablet is a death knell for Amazon’s Kindle platform. For one thing, I don’t think there’s any chance we’ll see a $259 tablet or even a $489 tablet, so the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX will remain affordable in the marketplace. There are ways to read on portable devices (iPhones, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc) and ways to read on portable computers. People seek out eReaders for many reasons – not just because “I haven’t found a $900 tablet that suits my needs so I’ll get this instead”.
Who needs to watch out more than Amazon?
Apple themselves. 🙂 If the tablet comes with enough computing power and the rumored multitouch verison of iWork – the MacBook Air might be a thing of the past. Sony – but not their Reader division. Considering what the iPod Touch and iPhone has done for gaming, a looming tablet could really put pressure on the PSP division. The good news is the PSPGo is about $250. The bad news is so is the iPod Touch, and if the development environments remain very similar (and they should) an Apple tablet will just attract more and more high calibre gaming shops to the party.
Blio. The allure of Blio (according to Ray Kurzweil at least) is a more interactive book with extra content such as video, full color, and better navigation compared to e-Ink style readers. Assuming the rumors are true and there will be an emphasis on books for the tablet – where’s your money going to be? Assuming similar content and similar availability (I would imagine the content will be available through iTunes for Mac and Windows users as well) – are you going to throw $15 a book at Apple, or a startup firm?
Skiff and Que. With Skiff’s emphasis on newspapers and magazines, and a B&W screen to boot, the only gimmick they’ll have left is a bendable screen and an unknown ship date. Que appears to be priced around where the tablet is expected to be introduced. It’s light, sure – but Apple has a pretty good track record on not introducing heavy portable equipment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge proponent of electronic paper, but when it comes to $900 devices, I’m going to want a bit more, even at the expense of refresh rate and backlit induced eye strain.
Microsoft. Despite a continued stranglehold on the desktop industry thanks to Windows, Microsoft may see in just under 3 years the complete loss of mindshare and marketshare in the mobile phone industry and tablet industry, despite countless attempts to dominate both. And let’s not forget Plays for Sure (cancelled) and Zune (struggling).
I think the traditional eReaders will do ok, especially in the short term. $600 to $1500 laptops haven’t been stopped by $250 to $350 netbooks, after all. There’s no reason to think $700 to $1000 tablets will kill $250 to $400 reading devices.
I certainly will be torn, however, when having to decide between buying content for a tablet or a small reader, since the latter is still extremely portable and easy to travel with.
Oh and who is a big winner in all of this? The publishers.