Value remains in single-purpose devices

Here in the lab, we have every kind of tablet available.  Some people favor the iPad 2, others the Kindle Fire, and we even have a BlackBerry PlayBook (though I’m not sure it’s anyone’s favorite).  Given the growth and variety in the tablet market, it’s clear that everyone has their own preference about how a tablet looks and functions, and one could assume that the more capabilities a tablet has, the more attractive users find it.

But, having just read “How the Kindle replaced my iPad…for book reading” on CNET, I know now that assumption is clearly untrue.  In the article, Scott Klein recounts leaving behind his iPad 2 in favor of the basic Kindle for book reading (he continues to use the iPad for a variety of other functions).  The question is, why would he bother to shell out the money to buy yet another device, when he can quite easily download and read books on an iPad?

Klein tells how he was drawn to Kindle’s e-ink screen, which is easier on the eyes for someone who spends the majority of his day staring at backlit screens.  But even more significant than this differentiation in screens, is the idea that Klein actually “admire[s] the single-use intent of a book” and by using his Kindle he’s “making a decision to not check email or browse the Web” and “could do with more moments like those.”  Couldn’t we all use more singly-focused moments?  Maybe it’s not all about having everything on one device.  Maybe in a technology landscape where all-in-one devices are nearly ubiquitous, their lies a unique value in something that has a distinct purpose.