REVIEW: Is Apple iPhone Going to Revolutionize Ebooks?
I’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.