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REVIEW: Is Apple iPhone Going to Revolutionize Ebooks?

Apple iPhoneI’m a big geek girl. I think we all know that by now. Why else would I devote an entire day of the blog week to blogging about ebooks and ebook devices and ebook related paraphenalia? I do want to point out, though, I have never had a crush on Buck Rogers, so queen of the Geek Girls goes to debut author, Meljean Brook. By the way, Ms.Brook, I convinced Ned, my husband, to read your book. This is partly because he doesn’t know how to load books on his ebook reader, but he says he’s enjoying it.

Something Ned and I both agree upon is that the new Apple iPhone is a hot looking gadget. I was madly refreshing the Engadget Macworld page anxiously awaiting the big announcement on Tuesday. Then I had to leave for a luncheon meeting right after I read this

9:42am – “Well today, we’re introducing THREE revolutionary new products. The first one is a widescreen ipod with touch controls” The crowd goes wild. “The second is a revolutionary new mobile phone.”

9:43am – “And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.” Tepid response on that last one, but he almost got a standing ovation on the phone.

Crap. I hate it when work interferes with the rest of my life. When I returned to the office, I saw that it was one device and saw it in all its one dimensional gloriousness. I wasn’t the only one. Engadget reported that it had 10 million page views on that day. There are already iPhone ad spoofs, a faux unBoxing, a Colbert report, and even a case at Amazon.

Later that evening, Ned and I watched the 90 minute keynote address, finally calling it quits after the dismal but comical showing of Stan Sigman, CEO of Cingular.

Let me digress here for a moment. Sigman must either be brilliant or his job was procured through the good old boy network often known as nepotism because his ability to communicate was only less effective than a wax character at Madam Tussaud’s. He spoke only for about 7 minutes but it seemed like 70 and used cue cards. Not small ones, but gigantor ones that engulfed his hand. He used the word “best” about 40 times. Let’s hope the iPhone contains a theasauras. He’s in sore need of one. If you don’t believe me, watch him for yourself. It’s sometime after the 60 minute mark. Don’t blame me if you fall asleep in a hypotic stupor.

Back on track to the iPhone. It looks gorgeous (yes, I’ve seen the reports of other devices looking like it). It’s got supercool features. (you can see all the cool cut from the keynote and put together on YouTube).The multi-function touch screen such as scrolling with your finger or the “pinch” move that enlarges the screen or makes it smaller. The visual voicemail where you see a list of your voicemails, who they are from and you!, not the cellphone company, decide which one you want to listen to. Can watch TV shows and movies. Its got a 160 dpi display which from all accounts is gorgeous. As Stephen Colbert noted the iPhone “has given the nerd community the hardest collective wood since Princess Leia wore a bronze bikini.” Like an erotic romance hero.

Initially I got so excited that I called Cingular the next day to put myself on the waiting list. Alas, I read that there will be no third party applications that are not approved by Apple. This, in my opinion, is major suckage. I want to read my ebooks on this device. I want to user gowerpoint‘s ubook reader or something similar. The iPhone will allow PDFs to be viewed but without well formated PDFs the books in PDF will not be readable. They aren’t readable on my 6″ Sony Reader screen.

There are other drawbacks: No report of it being able to open MS Office documents. No Java or Flash allowed on its browser. No camera video. No ability to add third party apps. Wait, I already said that.

Oh, I know that there are supposed to be software upgrades, but is e-reading even on Steve Jobs’ radar? I know that there were rumors a while back Jobs ordered all the publishers to start digitally archiving their books but is an e-reading software program so difficult to develop that you wouldn’t even want to mention it?

What maybe is the most interesting part of the Apple iPhone announcement was the fact that cellphones accounted for nearly 1 billion in unit sales last year. In 2008, Apple wants to sell 10 million iPhones which is equal to 1% of the market. When I heard about people saying smartphones would be the next movement toward ebook readers, I was skeptical but that was before I understood the breadth of the market.

Apple is big on vertical integration. I do think that if Apple creates an ebookstore similar to iTunes, the ebook revolution will be on. Right now, though, the answer to the title question is only if it actually has an ebook reading program. Adobe doesn’t count.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

17 Comments

  1. Angelle Trieste
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 05:11:27

    Apple will face its first legal battle against Cisco who’s owned the iPhone name since 2000.

    Cisco is asking Apple to pay Cisco’s legal fees and relinquish all profits eventually made on the iPhone. Cisco also demands Apple destroy all labels, signs, packaging and other promotional material that includes the word “iPhone,” a product it cost Apple millions to develop.

    Apple first asked Cisco in 2001 to acquire or license rights to the name. When Cisco declined, Apple embarked on a campaign of “confusion, mistake and deception” in its effort to secure the rights, the lawsuit claims.

    Apple went so far as to create a phony company — called Ocean Telecom Services LLC — to get around Cisco’s trademark, Cisco alleges.

    In an application to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in March, Ocean Telecom billed itself as a foreign company doing business in Trinidad and Tobago. The company listed its attorney as James Johnson. His contact information was an e-mail address from Google’s free Web-based gmail service.

    On Thursday, the Apple spokeswoman said the company would not discuss Ocean Telecom.

    ReplyReply

  2. Angelle Trieste
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 05:12:22

    I can’t type. Sorry for typos, etc. in my previous comment. :(

    ReplyReply

  3. Sarah McCarty
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 07:50:12

    My whole problem with my cell phone being my ebook reader? Battery life. Not the battery life of the reader function but the battery life of the cell phone. I want my cell phone to always have maximum charge for emergencies. Considering how much and how often I wear down my 15 hour ebookwise battery, I do not want my cell phone out of critical charge in an emergency because I was reading a book on it.

    I’m already annoyed at how little battery life the new phones have compared to the old ones that didn’t have all the bells and whistles. I think until battery technology takes a big jump forward, I want my reader and my phone separate items.

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  4. Avaron Dale
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 08:24:42

    I was going to mention what Angelle did, about the lawsuit, which was filed the day after the announcement. Thing that gets me about it Apple & Cisco were in settlement/negotiation talks right up to the moment the iPhone was annouced at the big show in Vegas. Apple didn’t even have the decency to tall Cisco to bugger off before making the announcement. Considering the lawsuit – and the status of the companiies involved – don’t expect a general public iPhone release anytime soon. The first thing that Cisco will do, if they are smart. is apply for an injunction to keep the iPhone and related materials out of the market… potentially killing the iPhone and making your question moot.

    Such is big business in America – announce something, generate a lawsuit, get lots of buzz. – for a product that doesn’t even exist yet and may not be what the public wants.

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  5. Angelle Trieste
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 09:11:19

    Cisco asked exactly that. They don’t want Apple to sell anything name iPhone because Cisco already sells stuff called iPhone which is a voice-over-Internet phone, I think. They’re already available, and most attorneys think that Cisco will win if they take it all the way to the court.

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  6. Jane
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:19:22

    Angelle – I read that but there are also reports that Cisco lost the trademark for failing to use it. It slapped the iPhone label on a device recently but have lost it long before then. It’s my guess that Apple, being in frequent litigation would have weighed the pros/cons of this situation.

    Avaron Dale – Jobs announced the phone now because he has to file for FCC approval and that will mean public release of information. The phone is due out in June.

    Ms. Sarah ;) – the battery life is supposed to be 5 hours for talking and 16 hours for music.

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  7. Jill Monroe
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:40:58

    The dh and I watched the keynote last night. That thing is AMAZING. I knew my husband would want it anyway, but after seeing the keynote, I want it, too,

    I also loved the feature about listening to voice mail in the order I want. The fling, the swipe, the ease of 3 way calling – I can’t do it that easily on my land line!

    Sarah – you’re right. The battery life is an issue. I have a car adapter for my iPod and use it a lot in that mode. I also put it on my dock every night out of habit now, so if the phone will be like that – maybe it won’t be too bad. I’m thinking with technology, that problem with batteries will (hopefully) resolve itself soon.

    The ebook thing. I too, was thinking (really really hoping) it would be like what Apple did to music, Apple would do with books. Seeing how the display would flip from horizontal to verticle so easily, the ease of watching a movie…it would be easy to read a book, swipe to turn the page. I’ll put that in my hopefully comlumn, too.

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  8. TeddyPig
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 11:12:17

    The following sounds cool but will drive you to drink.
    Please do not drink or use your ipod to read ebooks while driving.

    I have been using my old ipod to read ebooks. You stick them in the notes section after you do a couple of things to the pdf file.

    Basically to do it…

    Download Free PDF Text Reader

    http://www.ctdeveloping.com/ctdeveloping/products/pdftextreader_info.asp

    Then you package it using this…

    http://www.ambience.sk/ipod-ebook-creator/ipod-book-notes-text-conversion.php

    Then you drive yourself nuts trying to read it.

    ReplyReply

  9. Nicole
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 11:13:25

    The only thing….no way am I switching wireless companies just to get a phone. No matter how cool the phone is, my coverage for where I go is much better with Verizon than it would be with Cingular.

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  10. TeddyPig
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 11:14:57

    Oh to load it….

    Hook your ipod to your computer…

    In itunes and make sure that the option to use the ipod as a disk drive is on.

    Then explore the ipod as a disk drive you will see a folder labeled notes…

    Place file you created into the notes folder.

    ReplyReply

  11. Katie
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 12:16:16

    I’m so excited about this phone, for the voicemail as much as anything else. I hate checking my voicemail. I hope the legal stuff clears itself up (it always does, doesn’t it?).

    ReplyReply

  12. Sarah McCarty
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 13:55:27

    I am so waiting for Apple to do the ebook thing. Everything I have is apple and I love the stability of the products. Heck the reconditioned laser printer I bought 15 years ago still works like a charm and it’s never been serviced. I would love an ebook reader from them.

    And Jane, I want the full five hours for talking at all times. And the full 15 hoursfor ebook reading. Just greeeeeeeedy that way. *G*

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  13. Meljean
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 17:11:29

    Dear Jane,

    Pfft. I’m not the one who installed the Snap thingy two seconds after seeing it. Or the one who has five billion ebook readers.

    My grade for this post: Empress Geek.

    Meljean

    P.S. I really want one of these, too — but I’d probably lose it five minutes after buying it.

    ReplyReply

  14. Patrice Michelle
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 18:23:57

    This looks so cool, even if the price tag is pretty steep! :)

    ReplyReply

  15. Jason
    Jan 23, 2007 @ 21:05:41

    Its really more than likely that Apple intends to sell ebooks via iTunes, considering the fact that they already do audiobooks. Adobe is really not such a bad product in terms of ebooks. You should not read eBooks using the normal Acrobat Reader but rather they have a separate eBook reader with encryption. They are relaunching the setup after their initial dismal start. I would not be surprised if Apple works a deal with them since it would make for a good strategic alliance. As for Word and PPT etc. additional software should be sold via iTunes as you would purchase games for your iPod. Since the IPhone runs OSX, its easy to assume they would sell their iWorks for your iPhone via iTunes too. The battery life is actually OK. They did not say what is the waiting time for the battery but for 5 hours continuous video, browsing, or phone, I think it is already better than many phones out their. For sure better than my Windows Mobile phones which die after about 2 or 3 hours of talk time, forget about video, music or gaming (maybe 1 hour or so). Personally, to be able to listen to my Music for 2 hours a day and still have around 4 hours of talk time is pretty darn good. It only requires for responsible usage and remember to charge your phone at the end of the day and it should be enough. For the people complaining about RAM 8 GB of RAM is allot more than what you could get for any Windows Mobile or normal phone out there today, even with the addition of SD memory cards. Right now the max SD card I have seen is 4GB (not to say that it is unstable) so after paying a good 400 bucks for a Windows Mobile device, you then shell out another 200 bucks for a card and still you only have less than 5GB of RAM. So for the price with 8GB is really not bad at all if you think about it. Of course, in the RAM and battery departement, it is always going to be the more the merrier, but for now, I think Apple is already ahead of the curve.

    ReplyReply

  16. Dear Author.Com | 1 in 4 Teens Will Buy an Iphone: Will Publishers Meet this New Market?
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 09:11:50

    [...] Steve Jobs announced the IPhone earlier this year, I was mesmerized.  It looked cool and revolutionary even if it really wasn’t.  I’m not alone in my [...]

  17. Roman Loyola
    Dec 02, 2008 @ 23:42:28

    Multifunction printers-’also called all-in-one printers-’combine a printer, scanner, copier, and sometimes a fax machine into a single device. Having all these functions in one unit not only saves room, but it can also be more affordable than buying separate individual devices.

    ReplyReply

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