Dunno about the rest of you, but I have always quite like the idea of a future Apple eReader. The iRead or iBack or iReader or whatever. However, it turns out we don’t need one at all. In an interview with the New York Times, Steve Jobs pointed out that Amazon’s Kindle and such devices were pretty much a waste of time anyway:
Um. Yeah. The sheer stupidity of this remark is a little overwhelming. Now, I’m not going to deny that the number of book readers has plummeted in recent years. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still billions of book consumers and a market there. The galaxy-sized holes in this nonsense have already been poked by various MacRumors posters, but, to pick just a few:
Um, so 40% don’t read more than one book a year. What about the other 60%?
Even if that 40% don’t read many books, surely reading is now one of the most popular pastimes - if not reading books, then people are reading information on the internet.
The real clincher: Apple only have a 5 or 6% share of the computer market. So why do they bother making OS X at all? Perhaps they won’t any more. Perhaps he will soon be declaring, “No one uses OS X so the whole conception was flawed at the top. Whatever that means. Sorry.”
I’m sorry, but this comment has really galled me. For a manufacturer that tries to appeal to the “cool”, “creative” end of the market, this sort of remark is bound to irritate a sizeable chunk of Apple users.
I never had much respect for Jobs because he’s often abusive to his minions, read employees. A few years ago, I attended a lunch with him and found that he had no range of conversation: it was all about gadgets and money. He has little education and apparently no habit of reading.
His remark about books, for example: maybe only 60% are readers these days, but hasn’t the population expanded? It’s sad that the CEO of Think Different won’t build an e-book reader. Instead he hawks HD versions of moronic TV.
Jobs also spent about two years loudly telling people that “nobody wants to watch video on an iPod”… right up until they released the iPod video.
With a bit of luck, this is the same gambit - claim there’s no market to discourage your competitors, then enter a barren market with your own device. Although personally I think the iPhone/iPod Touch is Apple’s e-reader, they just haven’t implemented it yet. (Hopefully the SDK will encourage a third party to develop it instead.)
It’s important to remember that he’s the CEO of a tech company that has, apparently, decided to specialize in non-written entertainment (iPod, ATV, iTunes + buying/renting movies, etc.), so it seems natural (to me, anyway) that he’d have his own filters on when saying things like this.
Do I agree with him? Of course not. But I do think that that is how he sees the target market for some of his company’s newer wares, which might explain the perseptive filters he’s using when he makes that kind of statement.
(As a writer, I find it vital to try to understand those who say and do things that I disagree with or flat out don’t like. My characters would be pathetic creatures if I didn’t.)
(And I think it’s important to remember that many many of the movies that are out there are based on or ‘inspired by’ books, so he still needs books whether he believes people read them or not.)
I don’t understand Jobs’ remark, but on the other hand I don’t see the need of an iReader, or however it might be called.
My iReader is my MacBook. I have a handful of Scrivener projects which contain hundreds of masterpieces of European literature, with my own notes and observations. I take them with me wherever I go. All classical literature, yes. But it works perfectly. Don’t need an iReader at all.
Was Jobs’ remark dumb? Probably. But his job is to make money for shareholders, not to champion literacy. He thought iPods would make money for shareholders. He was right. He thought iPhones would make money for shareholders. He was right. I’m guessing the shareholders don’t care whether anyone reads, as long as the stock is north of $200/share or whatever it is now.
Anyway, analog interface still works for many (i.e., a book made out of paper, with ink on the pages); and…when Apple comes out with a tablet device running OS X, some of the folks on this very forum will doubtless a) install Scriv on it, and b) use it to read, as well as to write.
As Timotheus says, we already do that with our iBooks, PowerBooks, MacBooks, eMacs, and dare I say it - MBAs.
Just wanted to add that I have the Sony eReader and love it. I’ve been reading ebooks for years. The convenience of carrying so many books with me makes it easy to always have something to read.
That said, though, I did want to point out that it’s always possible that Mr. Jobs was being a bit specious, since his own numbers contradict what he said. If 40% don’t read, that means 60% do - hardly “no one”!
I think Antony has this right. Jobs isn’t going to commit himself to a new product in an interview - he’ll downplay it until Apple can do it right.
I am absolutely certain that Ives and co will have looked at the Kindle and laughed.
They will do it better - but it will be on an iPhone/Pod/Tablet with multitouch screen (note the Air’s multitouch pad includes three finger swipe to “turn” pages), and the “reader” will be one function of a multipurpose gadget.
“It doesnâ€™t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people donâ€™t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people donâ€™t read anymore.”
This whole comment galls me too, and tempts me to make pointed comments about the intelligence of Americans… but I shan’t!
Don’t they think that giving people a desirable tool that lets them carry around a lot of books would be an encouragement to reading?
If ebooks were discounted from hard or paperbacks, then it’s a more cost effective solution for many in the long run. And not just books - magazines, newspapers and journals would find it beneficial.
Go ahead. I do it quite often; it’s how I manage to keep up with current events without resorting to drug abuse. To be honest, though, I’m not too worried about Jobs’ comments. The general atmosphere in the US tends towards the anti-intellectual anyway, and a person who gets as much press time as Jobs is bound to say something I disagree with eventually.
As for Apple developing a competitor to the Kindle: even if they did, I probably wouldn’t buy it. Books don’t need batteries, for one thing. Since my wife and I both read, I would have to buy two devices, and two licenses for each text I purchase. That doesn’t make sense to me, not when I can buy one book, read it, and remember the page at which I stopped in case Catherine wants to read it as well.
Ah it means that Jobs is definitely thinking of some form of “reader”
He said the same thing about Music players and also about Cell Phones.
Talk about Music players how no one used them, they were clunky and horrid. Then about Cell Phones he blabbed on about that two years before the iPhone.
Then he released the iPod and then released the iPhone.
He did the TV, iPod, iPhone, iMac to better get into living rooms. His next big move will be to reinvent how we “read” printed material I bet.
He is a sly devil.
I bet Jobs works with Adobe even more for advanced PDF abilities for the iPod/iPhone and Apple TV.
He already put it in as part of the OS (PDF native).
Better support on mobile devices and the nest thing you know the eBook PDF standard will blossom like it never has before. The only thing that made it stagnant was people did not want to sit in front of a desktop computer" to read a book … but … Now picture an Adobe eReader on an iPod or iPhone? A whole library of reading material in a small device?
Bet that is his next big step
(Key startup of trending music and show a commercial where one reads literature on an iPhone)
This is how Steve usually works… Trash something until no one is looking, then embrace them.
He did this with
Audio and Video Editing Software
PCI IDE Ziff Sockets
It wouldn’t surprise me if it becomes something they do not even really need to address. We have yet to see what the SDK is going to look like, but if it is robust enough for more than simple applets, somebody will write a simple document reader. Something like a combination of TextEdit and Skim would be nice. Then you could read ordinary plain-text and RTF book files, as well as PDF, annotation and bookmarking for PDFs.
And if the popularity of the iPhone and iPod Touch become formidable enough, you could see vendors like eReader and MobiBook developing applications to access protected books, too. They both have Palm versions, and Palm to i* product curves have got to be in opposing arcs these days.
An open letter to Steve Jobs from Adam Engst appears in TidBITs today, calling on Apple to create an iPod Reader. Engst also suspects that Jobs poor-mouths a product idea (Kindle) that Apple will soon build. He also points out, as many of our astute colleagues here have noted, that reading is alive and well throughout the world. The article is at db.tidbits.com/article/9487