Is Apple's rumoured Mediapad a threat to Amazon's Kindle e-book reader? I think it is, but the only people who may care are current Kindle owners, some of whom may end up wishing they had waited on their purchase.
As I have said before: The Kindle in kindling.
It is always nice when the industry rumour mill starts validating what I have been saying, namely, that rumors of a ready-to-release Apple netbook actually refer to a supersized iPod touch.
Described as having a larger touch-screen than the Kindle's 6-inch display, while being physically smaller than the Amazon device, Apple's baby has been dubbed the "Mediapad."
The larger screen would be a more pleasant way to view movies or the Internet than an iPod or iPhone and the device could have decent speakers, too. By using a touch screen, Apple could save space necessary for Kindle's keyboard, resulting in a smaller device.
While not pocket-sized, the Apple mediapad would be easy to carry and offer an entertainment experience a smaller device could not match. Reading a book might be such an experience, right?
Now, I have the Kindle for iPhone app as a curiosity but have no real interest in using it to read a book. The screen is just too tiny.
I do not own a Kindle and have no interest in paying over US$350 for what, to me, would be a single-purpose device. An Apple mediapad would doubtless do everything an iPod touch does, only larger. And it could do everything a Kindle does, too, only in colour.
Will this bother Amazon? Not in the least. I cannot imagine that Amazon really wants to be a consumer electronics hardware company. Its investment in Kindle was necessary to kick-start the e-book industry. Many companies had tried e-books previously, without much luck.
Amazon has shown that an e-book reader can find customers, provided the content is available. Amazon has the content part nailed and will, presumably, be happy to see Apple create a much larger installed based of e-book-capable hardware than Kindle ever will.
My prediction is that if Apple really does the mediapad, Kindle will go away. But, probably not until Apple can reach a $350 price for its rumored new product. That make take a while, as something makes me think the super iPod touch will cost $500 or more when/if it is released.
In which case, the Apple mediapad and Kindle will coexist for a time, but eventually there will be no need for the Kindle and Amazon will be happy to be out of the hardware business.
This is, of course, based on my interpretation of a rumour about what Apple is planning. I think the rumour makes sense, but if it is wrong, well, never mind.
Note: This blog first appeared on our sister site PCWorld.com.