today's new york times has an article about an entire bookshelf in your hands, which looks at the current landscape of e-books, not so much from the device side, but more from the reader side. the article of course mentions sony's reader as the only current
real e-book reader, by which i mean using an electronic ink display. but what it more importantly shows is how fragmented the current e-book landscape is. users routinely have to get books in various formats, because different devices support different formats.
the iphone is being mentioned as a possible candidate for e-book reading, and because the display is so large and has a very high resolution, technically speaking it would be a good candidate for a small reading device (apart from the fact that the battery life is not really good enough for that). what the article fails to mention is that because of apple's insistence on a fully closed world, not only is it not possible to install applications on the iphone (which could implement better e-book support), it simply is impossible to just copy files to the iphone for using them locally.
so while the iphone does have a great browser and a decent pdf viewer, there is no way you can use them for viewing locally stored files. the only way to get files to and from the iphone is web, email, and itunes, and itunes is so limited in its capabilities and so narrow-minded in its design that it only lets you
sync (in a not-so-smart way, btw) music and pictures and videos, and that's it.
in a way it is ironic to see how powerful the iphone could be if the apple strategy folks would just lighten up a bit, and how badly it is crippled by use case assumptions and, more importantly, limitations caused by a decidedly one-dimensional perspective of application and user interface design.