Google has announced the launch of mobile versions of its entire book collection. The books are now accessible via the T-Mobile’s G1 Android based phone and the iPhone. Some say this will give the Amazon Kindle a serious run for it’s money but as a happy Kindle owner I disagree for a couple of reasons:
First, Google’s books are all public domain, meaning you won’t find any best sellers or current releases, only the classics. This is fine for some people, but many want access to current stuff as well. Amazon has announced that they are working on making Kindle books readable on mobile phones, which may crush Google’s mobile collection, depending on how many people prefer bestsellers to ancient tomes and classics. However another problem remains.
The small screens and backlighting on mobile devices simply aren’t conducive to reading books, unless you don’t mind pounding headaches and eyestrain. This is why the E-ink screen on the Kindle is perfect. You can read for hours comfortably. (Want to read in the dark? Get a booklight and you’re all set. Backlit Kindles will never happen as E-ink screens are opaque). Battery life is a lot better, too. With the wireless function turned off, you can go a week or more without having to recharge. Try that on an iPhone!
Finally, I think the idea of trying to make one device all things to all people is destined to fail. At the very least performance and battery life suffer. Sure smartphones are great, but the beauty of the Kindle in its simplicity. It’s an e-reader. It doesn’t make phone calls, send texts, let you play games, or offer GPS. It does offer a very basic web browser but it’s definitely not meant to be an internet appliance. It just lets you read books, blogs, magazines and newspapers. Despite the waiting list, I think avid readers will continue to be drawn to the Kindle and other e-readers over mobile devices.