Jun 1 2008
I know I promised to do a piece on the history of Net Neutrality legislation and what is the current state of the governmental proposals. I still intend to do that within the next couple of weeks. Today, though, is June 1, and next Tuesday, June 9, Steve Jobs will announce the release of the next generation iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Development Conference (WWDC).
Last year in June, the first iPhone was released to much excitement. I was an early adopter (and paid for it) but I don’t regret it. Since June, I have used my iPhone everyday, several times a day. I use it to send and receive calls, messages, and emails; to visit my favorite blogs; and, of course, to read ebooks.
The challenge with the first iPhone was that there were no authorized third party applications. In order to read ebooks, one had to jailbreak it and it wasn’t always easy. The eBook reader developed and provided for free by an awesome individual, Chris Born, was basic. It provided a method for reading the ebooks, but getting ebooks onto the iPhone required a bit of skill (basically ftp-ing to your phone) and once on the iPhone, there wasn’t any way to organize, rank, bookmark, or annotate the books.
This is a barrier for many people. I understand from talking to people and reading blogs that the key to the Kindle is ease of use. There was no hacking required to get an ebook on the Kindle. What would make more people adopt the iPhone as an ebook reader that could be easily installed and an iTunes like desktop interface that would allow playlists (all the June books in your TBR), tagging (ie. books with werewolves),
In March, Apple opened its iPhone doors and offered up a SDK or a Software Development Kit that developers outside of Apple could use to create iPhone compatible applications. A few of the thousand of developers who grabbed the SDK were ebook software companies.
At the IDPF in May, Mobipocket gave a demonstration of its software and the President & CEO said that there would be a reader for the iPhone by the end of the year.
Fictionwise, the owner of the eReader platform, said this:
Right now we’re trying to get the ‘Secure eReader’ ebook format working on the iPhone and iTouch.
Apple released their SDK for iPhone/iTouch on March 6. We have two Mac development experts doing the work to make our ‘eReader Pro’ software function on the iPhone/iTouch right now. Apple will allow third party applications, like eReader, to be used by customers after the next iPhone/iTouch firmware update which is currently estimated to be released on June 30 and we expect to be done with our porting work at about the same time. However, there is also a wild card in that Apple must approve of each and every application released for iPhone/iTouch, and we are currently seeking information about what the criteria are to qualify. We will certainly support these devices if we possibly can and Apple allows it.
When I asked Bill McCoy’s Apple, I was told that Adobe’s goal is to enable Adobe eBooks (both PDF and EPUB) on all devices including the iPhone but there are no specifics that can be provided.
Essentially, I think we can see three of the major ebook software companies making iPhone compatible readers. Why does this impact you, the reader? A few reasons.
First, easy installation. With approved third party applications, there will be no need to hack open the software of the iPhone to gain ebook reading capabilties.
Second, the ease of use that the Kindle offers will likely be present on the iPhone because the iPhone has both data and cell phone capabillities allowing you to access the internet nearly everywhere. If you can access the internet, the next step is to be able to buy a book. Mobipocket already allows you to buy a book if you have mobipocket installed on your phone (I used to do that when I had the Moto Q) so I think it is safe to say, that is would be part of their porting. This is a win/win for Amazon because it increases readers using ebook software and that can lead to increased sales for them on the e end as well as opening up the possibility that these new readers of ebooks may move to the Kindle because of increased screen size. Plus, a sale of a Mobipocket book is a sale for Amazon as it owns Mobipocket.
Third, the cost factor. The Kindle currently runs $399.00. The Apple 8 GB iPhone runs $399.00 as well except the iPhone is more than just an ebook reader. It is a phone, an internet device (i.e., it can access the web in way that you simply cannot on the Kindle), and an iPod. Do I sound like an iPhone evangelist? I suppose I am. I love it but for the comparable price*, it makes more sense to me than a dedicated device.
With the new iPhones coming out in June, I suspect that the price of the existing iPhones will fall. It’s something to consider at least.
*There is a monthly fee associate with use of the iPhone if you want to use it as a phone. You can, however, use the iPhone without activation AT&T. You would be limited to wi-fi as a way to access the internet.