From the Kindle commercial with the guy trying to read on his tablet in daylight
The Amazon Kindle has been around since 2007. It was a bit of a bold move for Amazon because they were going to be releasing a product with their name and the eReader market was basically some Sony reader that nobody seemed to care about. Kindle helped the eReader market grow, but their massive collection of books and their willingness to cut the price of eBooks back a bit helped a them get it off the ground.
Barnes & Noble released their reader, the Nook, about two years later. While it's a nice eReader, it still doesn't seem to have been met with the popularity of the Kindle. Even then, combined, the two devices dominate the eReader market.
Today, the two eReaders, are squaring off again. This time, it's the race to be smaller and more affordable while boasting the longest battery life. What's most interesting is that the makers have not attacked each other with their advertising (not that we've seen). They just keep announcing features that make their device look more appealing than the rival's.
B&N introduced the new, touch-enabled Nook. It's much smaller than previous models and uses eInk, unlike the Nook color. It runs on Android, but on the surface looks much like the Nook's regular UI. This is B&N trying to capture those users who want a simple eReader. It will sell for $139 and is available next month. The original will eventually be discontinued, it is reported. As someone who has used the Original Nook and the Kindle 2 (and tested the 3) as well as a regular iPad user, we can say that the first Nook's interface felt very clumsy. We will say that we haven't used newer models and don't know how much has been updated since.
Devices like this one are about targeting the eReader market rather than tablet users. Folks our grandparents age, for instance, may not be up to handling an iPad, or may have poorer vision. eReaders allow them to simply read, nothing else, and some people need that.
What did Amazon do?
They have launched the Kindle 3G with ad support. It's an interesting idea, as was their original ad-supported model. This one of course adds the 3G, while the previous ad-supported Kindle was just the wifi. At $164, it's not as inexpensive as the Nook touchscreen, but Amazon can work in the idea of buying your books from almost anywhere so long as there is 3G signal. Something a Nook user won't be able to do.
We've also heard from website ZDnet that Amazon has upped the battery life of their Kindle. How? They didn't change anything about the eReader. They simply estimated differently. Previously, Amazon estimated that the average user would get one month of use from it. They went based on the idea that a reader will do about an hour of use a day. B&N said readers will use it for about half an hour a day. All they had to do was assume that readers will use the device for a half hour rather than a full hour, and it double the battery life to two months. Oh math.
Where does the iPad Stand?
The iPad is the all-purpose device. Apple knows this. Amazon and B&N know this. That's why they give the App away for free on iPad and sell books through it. Amazon isn't selling us eReaders. They are selling us the books. The eReader is just a faster, easier and cheaper way for them to do it.
We have a wide range of users at iSmashPhone. Our editor doesn't use a Kindle, the iPad is his goto device. Then again, he admits that he doesn't read much when it comes to books, he gets his information from websites. The rest of his job is monitoring his websites and ensuring that things are operating smoothly. An eReader doesn't fit his lifestyle. However, if he did feel like reading for some reason, he'd likely pick up the free Kindle App and download a book.
Then there are those like myself. I had the Kindle long before the iPad was even a thought in most of our minds. The long battery life and light weight, combined with the extra toughness of the device makes it the more appealing reader. You can easily hold it and turn the page with one hand. The iPad's 1.2 – 1.5 pounds don't seem like a lot at first, but it does get heavy with some extended use.
That said, my eReader when I travel by plane normally ends up being the iPhone, but anyone who does air travel knows that it's a pain to carry around too many electronics. If I'm on the road, I will pack my Kindle.
Which Reader do you Use?
Do you read often? Which one of the eReaders or tablets do you use for your book consumption? Maybe you prefer the feel of paper. Let us know what you think. We love hearing it.