Mark Bridge writes:
Here’s a curious thing. Firstly, Amazon creates the Kindle. It starts selling the Kindle in the USA with a mobile deal that lets users download electronic books and newspapers wherever they are. Then it starts selling the Kindle to us in the UK, although – hang on a moment – it’s not talking about a UK mobile deal. Instead it still seems to be ‘roaming’ from the AT&T network. Next comes the larger-screen Kindle DX – also roaming away when it reaches our shores. And now Amazon is talking about third-party downloadable applications for the Kindle. Yes, a mobile device with downloadable apps. Hold that thought; I’ll be returning to it.
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Apple launched the iPhone. Love it, hate it or remain ambivalent to it – surely the greatest crime of all! – it’s hard to deny the phone’s success. There’s even an Amazon Kindle application for it. And now, if you believe the rumours, Apple has a tablet computer waiting in the wings. Whether you think it’ll be called the iSlate, the iPad or the iTablet, it seems likely to be another game-changing product. Maybe a rival to family-centric devices like the O2 Joggler and the T-Mobile Vega. Or perhaps a return to the original almost-pocket-size concept of netbooks. At the very least it’s expected to be a giant iPhone-like device for watching TV, going online, running applications and reading eBooks.
Yes, eBooks. And eNewspapers. (That’s probably the last time I’ll ever use the word).
Now, I realise that pricing will be key. It’s one of the reasons that many people shy away from Apple products. But who do Amazon really think they’re kidding? The Kindle is, in most circumstances, a much better device for reading books than an iPhone. It may even be better than an iTablet. But that’s all it’s really good for. The iPhone and iWhatever may not be as good in all areas… but what most consumers really want is a jack of all trades. A Swiss Army Knife, not a canteen of cutlery. And Kindle apps won't change anything.
Sorry, Amazon. I understand why you’re launching new applications. I know you need to keep developing for the Kindle if it’s going to survive. A guide book that updates itself over the Kindle’s mobile connection to suggest sightseeing trips based on the local weather is pretty clever. But, to coin a phrase, I reckon there’s already an app for that.