Kindle vs. Mobipocket vs. Everything Else
When Amazon.com acquired Mobipocket in 2005, many wondered if Mobipocket would be folded into Amazon's digital library and cease to exist as a separate entity. That hasn't happened yet, but it remains a possibility. Searching Amazon for "mobipocket" as this was written produced 358 results. eBooks for Mobipocket were priced from about $27 to less than a dime.
"Ayn Rand and the World She Made" by Anne C. Heller was a top-page headliner (in hardback) for $20.47. The same book in eBook form in the Mobipocket Store was $35, and the book in Kindle form (wireless download) was $19.25.
There is no economic advantage to using eBooks. Is it any wonder that the market for eBooks continues to be moribund and has been for over a decade?
According to Wikipedia, "Shovelware is a derogatory computer jargon term that refers to software noted more for the quantity of what is included than for the quality or usefulness." In DRM Watch, Bill Rosenblatt in a 2005 article about Amazon's purchase of Mobipocket wrote: "Both Adobe and Microsoft entered and then effectively abandoned the eBook market, mainly because publishers have been slow to adopt eBooks and to use them for anything beyond 'shovelware' derived from printed books. Makers of special-purpose eBook reader devices such as Gemstar and Franklin have also fared poorly; Gemstar has abandoned the market, while Franklin became a part owner of Mobipocket in order to diversify itself away from its own eBookMan device."
Not exactly an illustrious past...
Could it be possible that the Kindle is having its day in sun and the Sony Reader never will have one? It's possible because netbooks have become, in some cases, as inexpensive as the Kindle, and they are much more capable in all other regards except battery life and e-ink screens. Currently, many enthusiasts are awaiting the advent of an Apple Tablet. These folks are already poised to shovel dirt on Kindle and kin because they think the Apple Tablet will bury eBook readers for once and all… and for good.
And somewhere out there are those skinny, light, keyboardless MID (Mobile Internet Devices) PCs championed by Intel. They haven't worked out exactly as Intel intended, either. All of the current devices in that class sport keyboards and are wide clamshells or convertible tablets!
Even our phones are applying pressure against the Kindle-type devices. The new Verizon Android-based Motorola Droid comes with an over-VGA (854 x 480) screen resolution (widescreen), and guess what? The price of the phone and the plan, to the penny, is identical to the iPhone 3G .
Never too late to the party, Amazon has a Kindle application for the iPhone, too.