Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't Wait for Prince Charming

I used to think a heavenly apparatus would come along and save me from my multiple gadgets. I mostly thought about it when I was packing for vacation and had to make sure I had every cord I needed. It would be my prince charming. One gorgeous instrument with a phone, music player, camera, ebook reader, video player, and web browser. It would be so wonderful, I could wear it around my neck.

I’ve grown up a little. I’m not waiting for my prince charming handheld anymore. Nope. For the foreseeable future, I am stuck carrying all my needs in separate gadgets. I am referring to the Kindle and iPad, of course.

When the iPad was released this past April, foolish me, imagined the iPad and Kindle in a boxing ring, with oversized boxing gloves, going at each other. It was war. Which fancy reading device would Americans choose? Which little machine would prove victorious? I held my breath in anticipation. Publishers were in a frenzy.

Then both devices started selling rapidly. Apple has sold roughly 8.25 million iPads (the number varies) and while Amazon is mysteriously vague about their sales figures (they say they’ve sold millions but won’t say exactly how many)—it doesn’t matter. I don’t need any official sales reports telling me, I can just see it. Kindles and iPads are here to stay.

Americans, it seems, are not choosing between an iPad and Kindle. They are buying both because they are vastly different products. If we are choosing anything, we are choosing between reading devices (the new color Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, or the Kindle?) or between a new laptop or iPad. As I wrote in a post last summer, the iPad isn’t about ebooks. (There’s a reason why iPad owners tend to be young and male. More than half of apps downloaded are games.) And the Kindle keeps getting better at what they are designed to do as ereaders.

My minimalist dream of having one device isn’t here yet because it hasn’t been invented it yet and because I am not willing to give up the pleasantness of reading on the Kindle or the iPad’s web browsing and apps. We are spoiled kids in the candy store—we want, no, we need both.

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