As much as you can look at the track record of technology to try and predict how things will develop and which emerging devices mark the future, there is no way to say for sure. It seemed logical that we were heading toward digital formats after DVD, in the same way MP3 replaced CD. This was true until Blu-ray was forced on us, so we still have a few years left before we will just be hard drive focused. When Amazon's Kindle was first released many people began championing it as the end of physical books, but the way that books have helped to build our culture cannot be ignored.
The real question with the Kindle was how can such a specific mobile device survive. Even if e-books provided through platforms like the Kindle are only a novelty, they will still be a specialized corner of the market. If the Kindle then has to go up against something like the iPad, which can do the same function plus a thousand more, then what purpose does the Kindle really serve in the marketplace? Amazon has seemed to only make this case stronger with the release of audio and video for the Kindle, only available on Apple mobile products.
Amazon is now making it available to have video and audio clips in their Kindle books. This may seem like the most counter-intuitive move that Amazon could make around the Kindle, and you are probably right. The idea here is that you could have narration with your book or an audio track, not to mention little video clips that are supposed to back up the text somehow. Narration going along with e-book itself seems illogical as the audio book market is one that is both specific and stable in and of itself. There is really no practical reason to mix the two as it is not really a common request to have someone a book to you while you read it yourself. The same is true of an audio track as when you are reading it on your iPad or iPhone you have a full iPod available to you. This is not even to begin putting the comparison to the iPad and iPhone's own e-book reader.
Beyond the simple fact that Amazon is shooting it's own Kindle reader in the proverbial foot, they are also undermining the very premise on which it is built. The Kindle was about reading books, not browsing multimedia content pages. If you want that type of experience, then you can easily go online and get it from a website. A book is a different kind and an institution that people depend on. Now that the Kindle has undermined this, what real purpose does it seem to have?
This will likely also mark the shift away from Kindle's device now that they have kind of proven that there really is no reason to have the Kindle software on an expensive device separate from one you use for a variety of functions. This may not happen until the iPad, and iPhone for that matter, become even more entrenched in the American culture, but it will happen. Just you wait.