Today, Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt wrote in his blog "Why the iPad Couldn't Kill the Kindle."
He wrote: "When Apple launched the iPad last spring, most everyone assumed it would kill the Kindle. After all, the iPad had a multi-touch screen, a crisp, color display, the ability to view books, photos, and movies, and run thousands of applications."
He also writes: "it is clear that we have two distinct product classes here with less overlap than originally thought. Apparently, the market is big enough for both."
On this point, I don't disagree, however, I don't believe the battle is over. Hyatt cites the following as one of the reasons the Kindle "not only survived, but thrived":
"Amazon kept the price of the Kindle in the impulse range. The cheapest iPad (16GB, wireless only) is $499. The cheapest Kindle is $139 (wireless only)—less than one-third the cost of the iPad. Obviously, that doesn’t make it an impulse item for everyone, but it is far easier for customers to justify $139.00 than $499."
But this doesn't take into account that Amazon's first-generation Kindle sold for $399. And we're still on the first iteration of the iPad. Rumors of an April release of the unofficially named "iPad 2" are not predicting a price drop for the anticipated new iPad version, however some are wondering whether Apple will continue to sell the first iPad version at a discounted price.
Regardless, the Apple Insider cited on New Year's Eve a report that predicts iPad sales will jump "from 14 million units in 2010 to 36 million next year."
Many predictions for Kindle sales in 2011 hover around 8 million or 9 million. In Hyatt's blog, he writes, "Nevertheless, some experts estimate that they sold as many as eight million Kindles in 2010," suggesting sales could essentially remain flat for the Kindle this year.
Inc.com predicts a worse fate for the Kindle. "Kindle has defied gravity, so far. It sold like hotcakes over the holidays of 2010, despite the iPad, despite the many eReader competitors now available, and despite the lower-priced eReader competitors. In 2011, the Kindle will exhaust its nine lives. It won't die, but sales will fritter. In the end, Kindle will exist largely as an app for other devices. The hardware will be headed for the Smithsonian by 2012," wrote Renee Oricchio, in "Tech Predictions for 2011," on Inc.com's Tech Blog on Dec. 30.
If predictions of a color Kindle come true, will this be a game-changer? I don't claim to know. I still see a market for e-readers among consumers with a voracious appetite for reading books. But even my 14-year-old niece, who reads more books than most adults I know, wanted to exchange the Nook that she got for Christmas for a Droid smartphone. (She'll stick with print books and use the Droid as a phone, for texting, to access e-mail and the Internet, etc.)
At this point, technology is changing so rapidly that it's difficult to predict anything further ahead than tomorrow, but I'm just not as certain as Michael Hyatt that the Kindle will continue to "thrive" in a future with so many multifunction, portable devices … and, let's not forget, the printed book.