Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

The Future of Reading is the iPhone, NOT Amazon’s Kindle

Update: Brian Caulfield from Fortune echoes my thoughts on the iPhone being Kindle’s competition, albeit for a different reason. He seems to think that free content on the web (powered by Google Book Search, maybe) could make the iPhone far more attractive than the Kindle.

The ability to grab free books online points to the device’s real competition: not paper books but Internet-friendly laptops, tablet computers and smart phones. The amount of content available online is growing fast, and devices for accessing the Net are getting better and cheaper quickly. One such device is already here. It’s called the iPhone.

Read on with my post on why the iPhone IS a great book reader and not the Amazon Kindle! (with a comparative chart showing the two side-by-side)

Summary: Well, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I have a ton of catching up to do. But, what better way to start off the week than with a HOT piece of news on Amazon’s new e-book reader – Kindle! — Methinks iPhone would be the perfect e-book reader — (check out the comparative chart below) — Bonus: Trivia on dramatic quotes said while launching tech products

Amazon Kindle vs. Sony Reader

Or would you rather have this?

The original article by Steven Levy (Newsweek) suggests that “though Bezos is reluctant to make the comparison, Amazon believes it has created the iPod of reading.” I personally think that Apple has already created the iPod of reading and its called the iPhone.

Rex Hammock echoes my feelings best on what an ideal e-book reader would be like – an Apple product! Rex suggests a larger version of the iPod touch, although I think the extremely portable iPhone is a potential Kindle killer, more so because of its multi-faceted utility and its amazing readability given the pinch capability. In the midst of all this chaotic blog chatter is Arrington’s piece where he succinctly describes Amazon Kindle’s differentiator

The reason Sony failed? Perhaps because their device requires syncing with a computer to download content. That’s the Kindle’s killer feature – cellular and (probably) wireless internet access that will let users download content directly to the device from the Internet. And the cellular connectivity, which generally costs $60 or more per month, will be included with the device for free says a source close to the company.

Well, I don’t know if that’d suffice, particularly when compared to a killer device like the iPhone, which could really ride the wave if only they came out with reader like functionality. Plus, as Rex says, iTunes is the commerce engine that can drive these book sales. The only advantage Amazon has is their seemingly inexhaustible river of book content, which is probably what Bezos is betting on right now. Will consumers buy? I don’t know, but I’ve put together a simple comparative chart between the iPhone (a site for sore eyes) and Amazon’s Kindle, which you don’t want to be caught with! (positives in blue)
Marketing Nirvana’s comparative chart showing why the iPhone kicks Kindle’s butt (see the name sounds worse when used in a sentence. For those of you interested, apparently it was named Kindle “to evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge” he he)

Adding Books and GPS to the iPhone will definitely fulfill it’s destiny of being the coolest and greatest device ever assembled! However, much like iTunes holds the key to music content so does the Amazon Store for books, which could prove to be the only reason Apple hasn’t ventured into this territory!

Anyways, the iPhone is turning out to be a great way to consume content (just try out Google Reader or access a website on the iPhone and you’ll see what I mean). Moreover, it shouldn’t be a big deal to add reader functionality into the iPhone (methinks). If any of you’d like to speculate how feasible it is, feel free to do so in the comments section.

Trivia Quotes:

Steve Jobs announcing the iPhone: “Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything! Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone”

Jeff Bezos announcing the Kindle (I hate the name): “This is the most important thing we’ve ever done…It’s so ambitious to take something as highly evolved as the book and improve on it. And maybe even change the way people read.”

Mark Zuckerberg announcing Facebook Social Ads: “Once every hundred years media changes. the last hundred years have been defined by the mass media. The way to advertise was to get into the mass media and push out your content. That was the last hundred years. In the next hundred years information won’t be just pushed out to people, it will be shared among the millions of connections people have.” (More on this, later this week)

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

22 Responses

  1. […] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]


  2. right says:

    Uh, an iPhone sets you back thousands of dollars when you figure in the 2 year contract costs.

    You honestly think it would be better to read an entire novel on the tiny iPhone screen vs. a larger screen designed specifically for reading?


  3. Mario Sundar says:

    Hey right,

    In my case, I was already handcuffed by AT&T so I didn’t have a problem…. and Yes, I’d absolutely love to read content on the iPhone, what’s cool is that I can resize the text and run through the content and it’s painless on an iPhone.

    Do you own an iPhone? You should try it if you don’t own one.


  4. lisaamorao says:

    With the iPhone SDK coming out soon how much longer do you think it would be before the iPhone has a (or several to choose from) pretty little e-book reader application?


  5. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi guys,

    As an iPhone user, I can vouch for how simple and effective reading is on this device.

    And, I think the only reason that’d prevent Jobs from entering that market is probably the distribution superiority of Amazon. But having said that, that didn’t prevent Apple from entering the telecom market. So, you never know.


  6. terry chay says:

    I think you need to try e-ink displays before you think the iPhone is the Kindle’s problem Well that and you have to love to read books. Like insane amounts. Like me. Honestly, can you get 30 hours on your iPhone, can you read it outside without chewing the battery? can you page through very easily? No. No. No.

    But there is no way I’m paying $.10 to download my own stuff onto it. Or $1 to put a blog on it. Sorry, Amazon, I’ll stick to paper until someone makes a reader that doesn’t look like ass and has iTMS integration. I don’t care about EVDO.

    Personally I think the worst aspect of Amazon are all the things the iPhone is going to crush it at (charging for free content). Amazon is its own worst problem with that trying to do too much instead of focusing on the niche they have a lock on (bibliophiles like me who buy insane amounts from Amazon). Too bad the market is too nichey for Apple to come in and crush Sony AND Amazon.

    I ❤ e-ink!


  7. Mario Sundar says:


    I think you nailed it there. I’m not as voracious a reader as you are and you raise some valid questions.

    But as far as reading on the iPhone goes, I personally love it and if battery isn’t an issue wouldn’t mind purchasing books via iTunes.

    What galls me is charging blog content for a buck on Kindle. Anyways you raise some very interesting questions, bud.


  8. Charbax says:

    E-Ink is so much better than LCD for reading, no matter what. The OLPC screen might be the only one that is somewhat readable in its super high DPI black and white light reflecting mode. Still E-Ink is the best for reading text.

    No one sane will read a book on an iPhone. That simply will hurt the eyes. It’s like staring into a light bulb for hours. Reading on the iPhone is not healthy actually.

    As for paying 10 cents to transfer your document to the Kindle, that’s only if you want Amazon to beam it to you over EVDO. If you use the USB cable or an SD card, then you can transfer your docs to it for free.

    As for charging for blogs, why shouldn’t blog publishers be allowed to earn money distributing their content ads-free to ebooks. I think that’s a great thing for blog publishers, and certain blogs certainly are worth paying 1 or 2 dollars per month so the complete contents are instantly beamed to the Kindle (think of the bandwidth required for a months worth of TechCrunch, Scobleizer, Engadget, Gizmodo and such.. it’s quite a few megabytes per month even though Amazon probably compresses the pictures to save bandwidth). I’d think Amazon should also provide ad-supported content and micropayments. And leave it up to the blog publishers which models they want to use.


  9. internerd says:

    Mario, you really haven’t seen an e ink display in person have you? It’s pretty remarkable. The Sony ebook reader renders BEAUTIFULLY in way that an iPhone can’t compete with. Too bad it renders slowly. If the Kindle was $250, my money would be in. For $400, I’ll just buy books for the time being.


  10. Mario Sundar says:

    Alright, alright, looks like I’ve forgotten a couple of things:

    1. I’m not as voracious a reader as many of you
    2. I haven’t checked out an e ink display yet

    Nevertheless, given my limited readership and the convenience of one device swings my choice towards the iPhone.

    @Charbax why would anyone pay a buck to read content on the kindle when they can get it for free otherwise. I wouldn’t.


  11. taz says:

    If I wanted a phone, stereo, video player, and gosh knows what else in my book, then maybe an iphone would be the ticket. Personally, I think a lot of people will love it–until they need bifocals–but not me.

    What I want is a way to take my entire library with me on a trip, and something that at least approximates the look and feel of a real book. iphone will never do that.

    Why would I pay for content I can get for free otherwise? Well, aside from the fact that no content is truly free (you–or someone else–pays for your internet access), maybe for the convenience of not having to physically go where that access is available in order to read?

    I don’t plan to buy internet content anyway. There are better devices, as you’ve said. What I want is books, and I already spend twice what Amazon will charge per year on new hardcopy books anyway. I figure this will *save* me money.


  12. John says:

    I find that buying an Iphone is a very easy because there are no upgrades or different types. One Iphone and you get everything. You plans may vary depending on your needs. When you buy an Iphone you don’t have to get the Internet athought you should. It needed for all the bells ans whistles. The good thing is that the web fees are only 19.95 per month, this is half the cost or less than any other provider YES!!! I find this site has the best plans and phones available.

    Feel free to email me with any questions.


  13. Gitar says:

    iphone is still the best for me…;)


  14. Sebastien says:

    Kindle looks so gay. It can’t compete with a phone-ipod-internetbrowser-email at all! I’ll stick with my iPhone.


  15. Jason Poste says:

    Thank you for the excellent post. I bought an iPhone recently and still figuring out how to grasp the full potential of this marvel.


  16. Michael says:

    Love my IPhone, and I think it is the reading device with the biggest potential, however, I think key is contents re-mastered for the consumption as ebook on a multimedia device.


  17. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks for the comments, all.

    It’s amazing how much traction the iPhone posts get on the blog. BTW, I’ve an upcoming post on the marvel of book reading apps that were launched with the iPhone 2.0.


  18. […] in Technology I Love. Tags: amazon, amazonkindle, apple, iphone trackback This is a sequel to my original post where I proclaimed that the future of reading was the iPhone and NOT the Kindle. Since then, […]


  19. […] the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader). Readers of this blog are probably aware of my intense debates (see here and here) on the Kindle that ranged from hatred to slow acceptance of the inevitable onslaught and […]


  20. J. Parsons says:

    I’ve had my Kindle for about a month now, and I love it! I can hardly put it down. It’s like having my own portable bookstore! I spend so much less money on books, since Kindle books are cheaper, and its so convenient to be able to shop right from the Kindle. Kindle books download in a minute or less, and I haven’t had any problems finding the books that I want, or with any of my purchases. I haven’t tried many of the other features, like highlighting or writing notes or using the basic web browser that it comes with, but the Kindle comes with a how-to manual downloaded right on it that explains how to do everything, so you don’t have to look far if you want to figure out how to do something. If you’re an avid reader, I’d highly recommend getting a Kindle!


  21. I’ve only had my kindle for a short time but I love it. I’m an avid reader and it’s very easy to use. I can take it with me when I travel and just read at home. The only thing that is different is that you can’t tell how many pages are in the book so I just watch the percentage to see how far along I am.

    Denna L. Lowe


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