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Technology CompaniesAppleNow that Amazon has made its Kindle move, what about Apple and...

Now that Amazon has made its Kindle move, what about Apple and Microsoft?

Yesterday, Amazon announced its Kindle DX device. Some like it. Some hate it.

One thing is for sure, however, people are wondering what Apple or Microsoft will do in response.

Many on the Apple front are waiting patiently for WWDC to see if the company will announce their rumored “media pad” device. I see Sam Diaz of ZDNet is already pondering the possibilities.

“If Apple pulls that off, it could steal some of Amazon’s thunder by offering a better e-reading experience than even a new-and-improved Kindle is offering.”


But it’s not just Apple that people are looking to. Microsoft even has an honorable mention. Another ZDNet blogger, Jason Perlow, is asking if it would be possible to build a ZuneBook.

Well, first, Microsoft relies heavily on its hardware partners and unless Microsoft came up with an eReader/media watching/listening reference design, I don’t think there’s going to be much traction here.

The idea isn’t a bad one, especially if you focus in on the use cases. However, look closely at his specs:

“The handheld, Kindle 2-sized, color touch screen ZuneBook will have e-book reader capabilities, as well as the ability to read and modify Microsoft Office documents, and will use the latest Windows Mobile 7 platform optimized for small MIDs and tablet devices.”

In other words, we’re talking about a slate Tablet PC/UMPC-like device running Windows Mobile 7. I’m very much in agreement with the general notion of using a low-cost OS in a consumer device such as this, however, seeing how Microsoft has its hands full getting Windows Mobile 7 out for phones let alone other devices, I can’t imagine we’re going to see a device like this for a while.

That’s not a bad thing either. Right now there are no very low power displays or processors that can perform well enough for a device like this. Maybe in five to ten years there will be something, but not now.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try to build one today for schools, for instance, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a knock dead Tablet experience.

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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