I figure it's high time I publicly weighed in on this whole ebook wars thing. I was just reading and article over on Wired about the whole pricing dilemma currently plaguing Amazon.
I'll start off by saying that I am a Kindle owner/user, so take that as you will.
I was initially unimpressed with the launch of the iPad. the iPod blew us all away when it was announced, the iPhone blew us all away when it was announced. The iPad will take some getting used to. The screen still isn't e-ink like the most successful ebook readers, but it does have touch screen - something Amazon just realized customers want. It doesn't have the battery life of a Kindle, but it does have brand recognition.
The redeeming value about the Kindle, and I've said this all along, is that it adopts the UNIX mentality: "Do one thing and do it well". The Kindle is perfect for reading books. The great part is you can download the books via Whispernet wherever you happen to be. The iPad kinda offers this, but you have to pay more for the 3G device plus you have to pay for the data plan. (The Kindle data plan is free!) [sure, the basic iPad has wireless, but wifi may not always be available. it's not something I have to think about with the kindle]
Ok, so the iPad will let you surf the web, i'll give you that. Yes, the Kindle is essentially the links browser and Whispernet is slow compared to wifi, but remember, the Kindle is an ebook reader, first and foremost. It does that and it does it well, web is an after thought, the same way that iBooks was an afterthought to the enlarged iPod Touch.
There, I said it. The iPad is a grown up iPod Touch. It can surf the web, it can play apps, it has an ebook reader app - so does my iPhone. It does not have e-ink, long battery life, or instant free access anywhere. Is the iPad a Kindle killer? I think killer is too harsh a word for this situation. Capitalists: Competition is a good thing. The Kindle helped design the iPad, and the iPad will help redesign the Kindle. I'm excited to see what the next revision of the Kindle comes out looking like. I'm almost certain it will feature touch.
The iPad is definitely neat, but I think the Kindle will hold its niche - if Amazon can hold its publishers in place. I believe something definitely underhanded is going on between Mr. Jobs and book publishers, but I'll delve into that soon enough.
update: Well looks like gizmodo beat me to the punch with this article - however I'll expand on it with my thoughts later.