Here is a piece that was published last month and part of our re-publishing program. The iPad is a force to be reckoned regardless of what any other firm is doing. For those who have read it, our apologies but we remind you that we did say we were going to republish some work. Please enjoy.
The world of eBooks has taken a different turn not just in terms of book publishing but also in the eBook readers coming to market. One such piece of hardware is Apple’s iPad. The iPad is not an eBook reader but a tablet. However, the iPad has taken a position within the eBook space as it is. This has caused a stir in the industry and in the imagination of the public.

Regardless of how we all might look at it, the iPad has set new standards in what the tablets do from now on. In addition to this, the iPad has changed things forever. The changes made that are what make it the kick-ass piece of hardware that it is. Here are just very few characteristics that make my claim so:
iPad on Table
Ease of Use
I knew that the iPad was a hit the moment I saw my older brother get excited while using it. He (big brother) is a complete technophobe and hates using anything that will make him think too much. He just does not have the patience. The iPad came natural to him. The use of the fingers to carry out operations is simply a masterstroke. Using the fingers is not new, but the way Apple put it together is something else. 




Expense
Many – I was one of them – have complained at how much it cost to buy any piece of hardware from Apple. What I did not get at the time was that people did not care about the price they wanted the user experience. For those who might sneer at my statement, you should have seen the queue for those waiting to buy the iPad at Apple’s twenty-four hour store on Fifth Avenue in New York. Enough said!
 
Productivity
Now some of you might wonder about this statement but I tell you I have. I receive PDF documents on a regular basis. My biggest problem has been reading the documents. This is something I am sure you have experienced at one time or the other. I wrote a short piece a while ago titled “One reason why the iPad could be the eBook Reader Killer. (http://bit.ly/dl0wgq).” I really did mean what I wrote as my MacBook Pro screen was easier on the eyes. The iPad has made things simpler especially when I decide to read in bed. I know read my documents within hours instead of days, and the MacBook gets to rest.

iPad on Table 2
The Reading Myths
The first of these myths I believe I have answered – reading PDFs. One the first things you hear is that you cannot read PDFs on the iPad. I assure you that the iBooks software is more than capable of handling PDFs. Secondly; you cannot read in the sun using an iPad. Let me assure you that that is nonsense. I now live in Pretoria in sunny South Africa. I took the iPad out into the sun on 28C hot and humid day. The auto-brightness feature kicked in and made reading delightful. 
Now I have not read using either the Kindle or Nook so I am in no position make a comparison. However, there is nothing wrong with the iPad. 

Satisfactory Battery Life
eBook reader purists will always point to the fact the Kindle or Nook have battery lives in the weeks. I must remind people that the iPad is a tablet not an eBook reader, and has a satisfactory battery life  
 
eBook Market Space
I realise that this part of the discussion is two-fold. First, Amazon has access to 450,000 books, Barnes & Noble 700,000 books, while Apple just over 60,000 books. By the sheer size of books, this is a no contest. However, what the non-iPad users do not realise is that both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have both released eBook reader applications for iPad. We must not forget other reader apps from Wattpad, Kobo, and Free Books to mention just a few.

This can only mean that they (Amazon & Co) realise the importance of the iPad in the scheme of things. Moreover, despite the fact that the iPad is a tablet in a different market, it cannot and must not be ignored. Again, I go back to user experience. They (Amazon and others) realise that people might just not be interested in buying a Nook or Kindle if they are happy with an iPad. Because of this, Amazon and others realise that it would stupid not to take the initiative in the iPad market.

Secondly, although some companies have seen their fortunes turn for the worse in the eBook reader market, this does not mean that the shakeout has ended. In addition, there is already a price war brewing between Amazon, Barnes & Noble and of course Sony. Amazon has already fired the first shot with a $139 Kindle. It will be interesting to see what the others do. We can only speculate where all this will lead to as time goes on.

Chrome OS Tablet
The Chrome Factor
This I must admit also has commercial considerations but with a difference.  Google has now decided to enter the tablet space with the Chrome OS Tablet. Many others have announced and entered the market without much as a care from the consumers. It (Google) has announced that it will be releasing the table on November 26 (Black Friday to those in the US). Google might take comfort in the fact that its Android phone recently surpassed the iPhone in overall sales. This does not mean the same will happen in the tablet space. We must not forget that Google has made several concerted efforts in the social media space and lost to Facebook. Only time will tell how things work out. 

Innovation
Developers have taken a leaf out of the iPhone book with a plethora of new applications. Many of the apps are free while some you will have to buy. One of the most interesting apps I bought was the Vook (http://vook.com/). Some of you might remember a blog piece I put out on June 22 titled “Forget eBooks: The Future of the Book is far more interesting”. Adam Penenberg, a journalism professor and contributing writer to FastCompany, wrote this piece.

In the piece, he talked about how the eBook would evolve from just stagnant word on the page to the addition of video throughout the text, photos, hyperlinks, and the engagement of social networks. The same would be true of works of non-fiction. Imagine for a moment you were reading about the Second World War. While reading, you get to hear an mp3 track from that era which you end up liking; why not buy that song there and then within your book. Just imagine the commercial opportunities.

The Vook app is just the beginning of this era as it combines photos, video, hyperlinks and social media connections to its books. I am currently reading, “Unleashing the Superideavirus” by Seth Godin. The book allows you to tweet sections of the book, email your friends or share on Facebook, not to mention the interesting videos at the beginning of each chapter. There are also hyperlinks to the web strewn all through the book. Once again, it will be interesting to see where all this leads us.

Conclusion
Many already have the misconception that the iPad is an eBook reader. People it is not! The iPad is a tablet while the Kindle and Nook are eBook readers. There is a difference between the two. I do not think that the iPad is a direct threat to the eBook readers; however, it is a threat by the fact that consumers want it and it is quite a good piece of hardware.

There is absolutely no question that Amazon and Nook will battle it out with a few other smaller players for the soul of the eBook market. We will all have to wait and see what happens. As Google comes to the party later this year, it remains to be seen what their tablet will do in the market place. At this time, I cannot call it in favour of Google for one simple reason, customer desire. Despite the fact that Apple has always charged a bit more than most, customers have still flocked to the brand. It is obvious to most that the brand has brought something extra to the table, user experience.

Although Google is known for its innovation and its recent triumph over the iPhone with Android, there are no guarantees of the Chrome OS Tablet’s success. As a friend of mine put it recently, except the Chrome OS Tablet is sh$#ting gold nuggets, it can forget about beating the iPad. As a recent convert to the Apple brand, I say long live the iPad and long live interesting times ahead. And regardless of what anyone might say, the iPad is kicking ass.

Original contribution by Olu Oyekanmi. You can follow him on Twitter here: twitter.com/oluoyekanmi




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