Just in case you missed the “one more thing” brouhaha from the Amazon Kindle press release (no you didn’t read that wrong), Amazon unveiled that they’re going to be pushing out their books to third parties. Everyone’s falling all over themselves with the possibilities this bring to the iPhone. Rejoicing has begun around the blogs.
I’ve got a one word question for all of you rejoicers. Really?
Have you ever tried reading long form literature on an iPhone, or are you just all elated because everyone in the press is happy? I mean it’s a great idea in concept, but so was communism, and we all know how that one turned out. I’m currently on a little vacation in Europe, and one of the first things I noticed was a lack of divergences between stores. A pharmacy is a pharmacy — they don’t sell books, and candy, and soda, and bread. The grocery store is a grocery store — they don’t line the aisles with toys so parents have to give into little Johnny’s tantrums and buy him some crappy toy gun.
Now, lets employ that logic to the iPhone. Apple says the iPhone is a phone, an iPod, a gaming platform, and the saviour of mankind. Will they add Amazon support? Probably. Will iPhone users buy a bunch of material from them? Most definitely. Would you be able to read War and Peace on an iPhone? Not bloody likely.
The iPhone has a ton of great features, things that it does better than anyone else in the markets that Apple has focused on, but it’s not a better “reading” device than the Kindle. I challenge anyone who doesn’t believe me to spend an entire week rummaging through a manual on their iPhone. Without access to any other technology. No laptop, no desktop, no reference book. Tell me how intuitive it is, and better yet, tell me how long it took for your eyes to burn. I just lasted three days, and I gave in and purchased a twenty-four hour internet pass in Vienna because this PHP reference manual was pissing me off.
Convergence is not always good, and some things are better left on a separate device. The iPhone, as it currently stands, will not compete with the Kindle, and it will not provide the users with a superior experience. If Apple ever got around to releasing a tablet device, there might be a completely different argument coming out of my mouth at that point. If you want to read your books on a device buy a Kindle, and don’t rely one iota on your iPhone. Take it from me, a man stuck in Europe with an iPhone as a PDF reader for the next week. It isn’t pleasant.