Rumours started circulating a week or two ago that Amazon was planning to make its Kindle-formatted books available on Apple’s iPhone. Well, a week’s a long time and Amazon today releases its Kindle reader application for the iPhone. Like Stanza and eReader, this is a free download from the iPhone App Store.
But unlike Stanza, for instance, it doesn’t support open standards such as ePub. What it does is open up the large Kindle ebook catalogue to iPhone/iPod Touch users. And, just as a deluge of smartphones from other manufacturers is about to head our way, Amazon is also expected to make its Kindle reader apps available on other platforms – Kindle ebooks everywhere.
For those who think Amazon is crazy and will end up cannibalising sales of its own Kindle ebook Reader, Amazon has an answer. It will actually increase sales of the reader and Amazon thinks many customers will want both their smartphone and their Kindle to read books on. They see the smartphone as good for short reading and the Kindle for longer sessions, especially with its superior battery life. Reinforcing this will be a feature that will synchronise your reading so both your iPhone and Kindle will open the book you’re reading to the same page. On the point that it will actually increase Kindle sales, I wholeheartedly agree. Once again, Amazon is showing a lot of undertstanding of the digital domain.
One reason is that it also helps address a big objection that’s been levelled against Amazon’s Kindle, namely that its proprietary format and limited support for any other content formats locks you into using a Kindle once you’ve bought your books. Well, no more. It certainly locks you into using the Kindle-formatted books on Amazon-developed technology, and it gives Amazon a lot of control over its technology development, likely to be a critcal competitive advantage. But consumers will shortly have plenty of choice over which gadgets they buy to read their Kindle ebooks on.
At this stage, you can’t buy Kindle ebooks from within its iPhone app. You need to go to the Amazon website to make your purchases. This will no doubt be addressed at some stage as, presumably, will be the continuing restriction on sales to readers located outside the US.