eBook pricing settlement

As a Kindle owner and fan I was peeved at Apple when they broke the pricing model Amazon had established for eBooks, just so Apple could try to grab a few of the publishers and battle Amazon. Apple itself was hated by the music publisher when Apple insisted on $0.99/song pricing and not allowing the music publishers to set the price, esp. a premium price for popular songs. Obviously Apple is being hypocritical when it then tries to stop Amazon from doing the same thing for eBooks and just suckering publishers in with (temporarily) higher prices. I kept saying to myself, “publishers, have you not seen what Apple did in music, you really think you can trust them? If Apple blows up Amazon and then has the monopoly on reading devices don’t you believe they’ll change the pricing and double-cross you? Suckers!”

So I was relieved when DOJ decided Apple had illegally fixed prices. Most Kindle books I’ve bought since the iPad have the higher Apple pricing instead of Amazon’s original pricing so I figured Apple has cost me about $50 in higher book prices, which for me translates into about 5 less books I’ve bought. So the publishers got screwed by this too and cheap prices would be in their best interest, but content suppliers have been noticeably stupid about pricing on the Net, pursuing margins instead of volume.

So I was pleased to see the news of the new settlement. This settlement is likely to restore Amazon’s original pricing and force Apple to compete on even basis. Apple killed itself with the Mac by becoming arrogant and they’re risking the same thing with the iPad. The iPad is more of a fashion statement, a prestige symbol, than really that good a device (iBooks are worse than Kindle and guess what would happen to the Kindle app on iPad if Apple can have its heavy-handed monopolistic way and ban Amazon). People don’t realize Apple is now really in the content business far more than the hardware business and thus Amazon is their biggest threat, esp. as it is already well established and has more robust retail than Apple, and so Apple means to kill Amazon. So hurrah for DOJ at putting the clamps on Apple.

Now using both iOS devices and Kindle Fire, frankly iOS is better. It’s not, as the popular press claims, the better hardware in iPad, but the awful Android base that Amazon has to start from. Android compared to iOS is the same as Windows compared to Mac, a sloppy do-everything, hard-to-use, buggy OS. But it is open and I’ve seen Apple’s complacency before when they have the monopoly of a closed system, so I can only hope Amazon can turn Android into something useful. As a software architect I loved the idea of the Silk browser, but frankly it sucks and has a long way to go, but Safari is mediocre as well so if Amazon will pay more attention to the software they can put out the superior device.

The main thing that bugs me about iPad is it is the usual head-in-the-sand, everyone-has-always-on-bandwidth and available power connections design that works poorly in the real world. I use my Kindle most when flying and I know first hand it (the eInk version) can function on a 22 hour flight to China where my iPod was dead before I connected to the international flight. Once I got to fly to China first-class and that was wonderful and had a power outlet but back in the cattle truck part of the plane – no power. No power and a dead battery makes for a long flight. Now with the PaperWhite version, I can get long battery life AND easy reading in all conditions.

Everyone is a little too enamored with glitzy color and rapid screen refresh and that’s great for games, but it’s a power hog and a really clear high-contrast, high-resolution screen with long battery life (and low weight, hold an iPad for a long plane trip and see what those extra ounces means to arm fatigue) is what reading needs. Apple and its groupies seem to think the only thing that matters is lots of cool apps and a multi-purpose machine, but when it comes to books a mostly single-function device is much better. If I always had 4G with no contention and a power plug then iPad would be fine, but my world is rarely like that so I’ll stick with Kindle and can’t wait to get a new PaperWhite. iPad is not a substitute, for me, for a laptop which I must carry, so Kindle and laptop are my choice instead of the faddy iPad.

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About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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