So, the keynote is over, the lights have come back up, and now comes the punditry. Everyone’s spouting off that the iPad is going to change the world, and we’ll see the end of the Text Book Age and the beginning of the Tablet Age – well okay, maybe not “The Tablet Age,” but definitely Apple’s Tablet Age.

So the next logical question is what the heck is the competition going to do to outdo the iPad. Probably the same thing the cellphone companies are doing to outdo the iPhone – beg, borrow, and steal, but very little real innovation. Before you come with the nooses, hear me out for a minute.

I wanted a Kindle, and I certainly would have taken a Barns and Noble Nook, but now I can get that experience in full color. That’s a lot of encouragement right there, and with battery capacities inching along towards more efficient designs, I really have to sit back and wonder if we really need e-ink. I haven’t held an iPad and I certainly haven’t spent 10 hours trying to read on it, so for all I know it could make my eyes bleed, but with a color screen you can do a lot of stuff, like video and gaming. There’s a lot of stuff the iPad might not do, but I think it does a lot more than its counterparts currently, and given society’s love affair with iPods and iPhones, more than a few of us are going to be willing to drop a couple dollars on it.

I won’t call the iPad a Kindle killer just yet, but I think it has begun its stalking phase, and it might take a stab at it at any moment.

Why am I not declaring the Kindle dead just yet?  People love their single function devices.  Being able to have an e-reader that’s just an e-reader and that gives you an extraordinary battery life is something that an iPad can’t compete with just yet.  If Apple wants to replicate an old fashioned book they’re going to have to take on the efficiency of the e-ink technology.  You’ve got to hand it to Apple, they’re trying, but they aren’t quite there yet.  People don’t want  to spend a lot of time worrying about another device to charge up, so if this thing really has the standby life that Apple says it does then the iPad could be a major competitor to the Kindle. It’s all about battery life with these devices, and until we get a prolonged look at the iPad, we’re not going to know how it really stacks up to its competitors.  Real life is a lot different than Apple’s suggested timeline for battery life, so 10 hours could really mean 5, which just wouldn’t be enough.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out, and more importantly what Amazon’s next move might be with the Kindle.  It should be an interesting year for mobile computing.

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