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Not a Good Point

April 15, 2010 6:57:21.124

I have to part with Andres on this one:

Sigh. Just because things look cool, it doesn't make them good. For example, somehow it's a good thing to carry 1000 books in our pockets. What's the point, since we cannot meaningfully deal with even 5 serious books at a time? Moreover, 25% of Americans don't read books at all, and the rest reads about 1 book a month. Are Kindles or iPads worth so much just to read 1 book a month?

This all depends on where you sit. For instance, if you sit on a plane a lot, being able to carryv a lot of books on one small device is a huge win. Years ago, on a trip to Australia, I weighed myself down terribly with a bunch of books for the long flight. On another trip there, I bought a large book in Australia, and then had to figure out how to fit it in my bag for the flight home.

Now, does everyone travel regularly? No, but that's certainly one target for whom such devices make a lot of sense. We bought one recently, because my wife wanted to be able to read the same book upstairs and downstairs. Simple, you think - just cart the book, right? Except, with her knees, she doesn't like to carry stuff up and down. The iPad is small enough for her to handle more easily - and the Kindle app for the iPad and Mac synchs her reading position between the two devices quite nicely.

Ultimately, what makes or breaks any gadget is whether it makes the users happy. It's early days for the iPad, so we don't have a solid idea. Give it a few months, and I think we'll know a lot more - like whether the new restrictions on development irritate enough developers that the irritation flows down to users.

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posted by James Robertson

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