As I read the NYTimes article I was amused at their discussion of the Kindle's advantages, because from what I can see the iLiad already has them. Some choice excerpts:
Several people who have seen the Kindle say this is where the device’s central innovation lies — in its ability to download books and periodicals, and browse the Web, without connecting to a computer.
But with the work on Minimo and the new Feedbooks program from Adam, Hadrien, and others, the iLiad will soon be able to do just that!
Some also complain about the fact that Amazon is using a proprietary e-book format from Mobipocket, a French company that Amazon bought in 2005, instead of supporting the open e-book standard backed by most major publishers and high-tech companies like Adobe. That means owners of other digital book devices, like the Sony Reader, will not be able to use books purchased on Amazon.com.
Ah, but with the iLiad, you CAN read Mobipocket books...
On the one hand, I agree that the keyboard and scroll wheel seem superfluous. On the other hand, how will you browse the web without a keyboard, if you don't have a stylus? Personally, I think a stylus makes web browsing much more convenient than a scroll wheel can. Maybe I'm just biased.
Actually, I think that such a feature-heavy device will not appeal to the basic user who just wants to read a book on the go. For simple e-book reading, elegance and convenience are the most important. As much as I love my iLiad, I think the device that will contribute the most to ebooks' future will be the Sony Reader.
The news that both Amazon and Google are getting into e-books is very promising for the expansion of the current library of available e-books, both from them and from other publishers. Anything that means I can get more e-books is a good thing to me! The article expresses some pessimism that e-books will catch on, but in my opinion, their past failure has always been due to two problems:
- Very few titles available electronically
- Poor reading aesthetic of LCD screens.
E-Ink already solved #2. With luck, Amazon and Google will soon solve #1.