The dedicated reader device vs. multitasking device debate reminds me of the height of the Mac vs. PC wars. The early adopter / true techno-geek types get really impassioned over this.
I’m not sure that most existing consumers of traditional print content (books, magazines, and newspapers) care all that much about the nitty-gritty of the features. The next generation of readers might, as their young reading lives are so different than previous generations’.
So many of the analysts weighing in on the Kindle-type reader vs. iPad debate are techno-geek types. They tend to have lifestyles that require integrated devices. They live in urban environments and spend a lot of time using public transportation and traveling by air. Of course they don’t want to carry a bag full of electronics.
For eReader users who are readers first, rather than technology users first, there’s a point of diminishing returns on the bells and whistles. For us, the core utility of the reader tends to be having a comfortable reading experience, eliminating the need for physical storage space for books, and being able to carry a variety of reading materials.
Lance Whitney, in CNET News, writes about challengers to Kindle “unveiling cheaper, more versatile e-readers, moving beyond books.” Another observer of eReader trends, a person who waits tables at Logan Airport, sees it differently in her response to a different CNET article:
"I completely disagree. I wait tables at Logan Airport in Boston. I can tell you I see hundreds of people with e-ink readers, primarily the kindle. The people that are using them vary in age and sex. I have served 80 year old women reading off of these. I can tell you they were not 'gadget enthusiasts'. They were/are reader enthusiasts. People who love to read books, and newspapers."
There are many years of print content buying ahead for baby boomers and GenXers. While the next generation is almost sure to demand a different ratio of multimedia vs. print content for entertainment, it’s unclear that there will be enough people willing and able to tolerate the price point of the more sophisticated technology. I expect that Kindle and other eInk device sellers could have another pretty successful holiday season this year, in both devices and content.