The iPad vs. Kindle showdown

The iPad, nearly a month old now, is winning raves from mainstream users. But don't count Amazon out yet.

By Kim Peterson Apr 28, 2010 3:19PM

Credit: (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Tech critics had plenty to say about the iPad vs. Kindle war. Now, regular consumers are starting to get their hands on Apple's(AAPL) new device, and the mainstream is chiming in on the debate.

Eventually, we'll get enough solid sales data to see which way the money is flowing. I wouldn't count Amazon (AMZN) out yet.

James Stewart, a columnist for SmartMoney magazine, is not a tech head. He doesn't have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, and hadn't used touch-screen technology until he got his hands on an iPad two weeks ago.

But he's fallen in love. And not with the Kindle, which has been sitting untouched on his bedside table.

"It really is no contest," he writes. "I find I'm carrying the iPad everywhere I go."

Does his enthusiasm bode well for Apple shares? Stewart owns both Amazon and Apple shares, and urges investors to wait before buying either stock. Both Apple and Amazon have recently hit all-time highs.

"I don't like to buy anything at an all-time high, so I would urge investors to wait for at least a modest pullback before buying either stock," he writes.


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But if you have to pick one, he writes, Apple seems like the bargain, with a price/earnings ratio of 23 (compared with 63 for Amazon). He's super-excited about the iPad, and says anyone who reads or watches a screen (wouldn't that be everyone?) is going to want the device. Two of his friends saw his and went to go buy one last weekend.

"I think this is a breakout product for Apple, and if you agree with me, I would invest in the stock sooner rather than later," he writes.

The New Yorker's Ken Auletta looks at how both devices are going to change the e-book industry. Amazon had taken 80% of the e-book market by the end of last year, and had a habit of buying e-books from publishers for $13 and selling them for $10, Auletta writes.
The idea was to subsidize book sales in order to own the market. And it worked -- before Apple came along with a pricing structure that was better for publishers.

But ironically, Amazon could benefit from more iPad sales. Amazon smartly built a Kindle application for the iPad, which users are raving about. Using that app, iPad users can still take advantage of Kindle pricing. For example, you can buy the book "Tribes" for $15 on Apple's iBooks program or for $10 on Amazon's Kindle app, according to Clayton Morris of

The iPad has only been out for a month or so, and it's far too early to see how the device will affect sales of the Kindle or the Nook from Barnes and Noble (BKS). Amazon, by the way, has begun selling its Kindle at some Target (TGT) locations.

Digitimes Research estimates that 1.43 million e-book readers sold worldwide in the first quarter. In the last month of that quarter, the Nook outsold the Kindle, Digitimes reports.

But that was all before the iPad debuted on April 3. Since then, Chitika Labs, which tries to track iPad sales, estimates that 1.1 million iPads have sold (see the live counter here).

Have you used both devices? Who wins? Let's hear your opinion in the comments.
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