Kindle fights Sony, and both try to wipe out the Nook. Now the Internet whispers that Apple may join the battle for dominance in the e-reader market. Except I know who’s going to win. I’m absolutely certain. You ready? Here it is:
None of them.
Every one of these e-readers is going to slide into the margins, used by a mere handful of people. Makes me glad I got my Kindle for free.
The real winner will be the cell phone.
It’s true. The e-reader of the (very near) future will be the cell phone. Okay, let the howling begin: “No one will read on cell phones.” “I hate reading on that little screen.” “You can’t even get a whole paragraph.” “It runs down the battery.” “The e-readers offer a much better reading experience.”
Hey, I love my Kindle. Great way to buy books and read them. The Sony and the Nook have their plusses and minuses, too. But cell phones wipe the floor with them in one simple, insurmountable way:
Which device do we carry with us more often, a cell phone or an e-reader? (How many of us don’t even own an e-reader but own a cell phone?) If we’re heading out to run some errands and we realize as we’re pulling out of the driveway that we’ve forgotten our cell phone, how many of us frantically run back and get it? And how many of us, upon realizing we’ve forgotten our e-reader, would say, “Ahhhh, no biggie”?
We take a cell phone to the beach, to the bank, to a hotel, to the office, and to the laundromat. The phone is nearby when we find ourselves unexpectedly alone in the restaurant or on the bus. We forget our cell phones, and we feel lost. It’s like realizing we’ve forgotten a wallet or purse. The Supreme Court of Ohio, in fact, recently ruled the police need a warrant to search through a cell phone because the material contained therein is so personal. It’s become a part of us.
E-readers can’t compete with this. They’re expensive, and they only do one thing, unlike cell phones. Most people have to make an effort to remember to grab one, if they even own one in the first place.
In Japan and China, people are already used to reading on their cell phones. Cell phone novels, or “keitai shousetsu,” are wildly popular and are considered a genre unto themselves. It’s only a matter of time before they conquer the western half of the world.
And remember cameras? People originally poo-pooed cell phone cameras. “What would you want with a phone that takes pictures?” “They take awful photos.” “You can’t focus or zoom.” “The memory fills up really fast.” And lo, time passed. These days when you want to take a quick picture, what do you reach for, your digital camera or your cell phone?
Cell phone cameras won simply because they were handy when people wanted to take pictures. Cell phone e-readers will win simply because they’ll be handy when people want to read. And just as cell phone cameras improved with time and demand, so will cell phone e-readers.
I guarantee it.
–Steven Harper Piziks
Books available on Amazon’s Kindle: