So, we are only a few days away from the launch of the iPad in the USA. Fans of eBooks, in particular, are keen to see what delights are in the new iBookStore. There’s a natural inclination to think AppStore=iBookStore, but can Apple do for books what the AppStore did for instant-download applications? When the iPhone was announced in 2007 the AppStore was something completely new.
Anyone who had struggled with buying and installing programs on, say, Windows Mobile, soon appreciated the big advance of being able to select a program, pay for it instantly and find it installed and working within seconds. No licence codes, no installation packages, no nothing except pure instant gratification. It is not surprising, with hindsight, that the idea was such an instant success; nor that the AppStore has done more to stimulate the sales of iPhones and iPod Touch models than any amount of advertising or geek praise.
The iBookStore, although it will certainly work in a similar fashion to the AppStore, is not so revolutionary. Amazon already offer a similar buying experience, not just on the Kindle but on iPhones, Macs, PCs and other platforms. As we saw in the yesterday’s post, Apple will have to work hard to gain the initiative. They will have to meet Amazon head to head and, if possible, bring a few rabbits out of the hat. Certainly they need to offer cloud synching to compete with Amazon’s Whispersync. Once you’ve tried that you wouldn’t want to go back to having to search through a book when changing readers. In fact, I think this is one crucial aspect: without sync the iBookStore will supplant Amazon.
In some respects, though, Apple do have an advantage. The iPad is a multi-function computer that offers access to much more than books. Amazon, if you sideline the Kindle device itself, is primarily a content provider while Apple, initially at least, is more interested in the hardware. This can change, of course. I feel sure even Apple could not have imagined that the AppStore would bring in so much revenue, nor that it would prove such stimulation to sales.
To add to the debate, here’s a stimulating article on iPad vs. Kindle from MacWorld on March 24: Read more here.