Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kindle Lover Oprah Fawns Over the iPad

The Wall Street Journal

Is Oprah Winfrey shifting gadget loyalties?

The question comes to mind following some comments by Winfrey–a prominent past booster of Amazon’s Kindle–during a short segment of her influential TV show last week that featured tech analyst Omar Wasow and the Apple iPad.

Winfrey gushed about the “amazing” new device, which she said she got the day of its launch. One reason is that “books move,” she said, as she demoed how the iBooks app (featuring the Oprah Book Club) keeps e-books on a virtual shelf and how some books can feature interactive elements. “It’s going to change the way kids learn,” she said.

She also said that she loved the iPad because it is back-lit, which makes the screen good for sharing digital photos and playing games like Scrabble. “Gosh, those Apple folks,” she said.

Winfrey never said explicitly whether she was now doing all her reading on the iPad. And, in one positive note for Amazon, she noted that viewers could use an iPad to read Kindle e-books. On the other hand, she also used the past tense in the context of her ownership of a Kindle.

As she put it, “there’s a Kindle app so that those of you have Kindles–obviously I had a Kindle–you can take all the books from your Kindle and put them on your iPad.”

A spokesman for the Oprah show says Winfrey uses both devices.

Winfrey’s iPad enthusiasm matters because she is a tastemaker among legions of book buyers. After she endorsed the Kindle in the fall of 2008, Amazon was flooded with so many orders, it had difficulty keeping up with demand for the device over the holidays.

Amazon has made it clear that its sees the proliferation of Internet-connected gadgets–even ones that compete with its own Kindle device–as an opportunity. In an earnings call last week, Amazon’s CFO Tom Szkutak said that Amazon benefits from any device that could give people access to its giant online store.

“What we are excited about is that world may shift to a place where everybody has a 3G connected device for browsing the Web,” he said.