News: Amazon Kindle debuts ? for the iPhone?

| March 5, 2009

Just a week after it launched the Kindle II, Amazon just debuted a free new app called Kindle for iPhone.

Users can preview and buy from a selection of 240,000 ebooks on, download already purchased titles and read them on their phones.

And thanks to the Amazon's much-hyped Whispersync function, Users who already own an iPhone or iPod Touch along with a Kindle can access their full library across all their devices for free. Coupled with a bookmarking feature, this cross-device syncing lets readers start a book on one gadget, then pick up where they left off on another. That's just really neat.

But why would Amazon would create a competitor to its newborn Kindle II? The short answer is: It wouldn't.

Basically, the company doesn't take the iPhone seriously as an ebook reader. According to The New York Times, Amazon thinks that people just read on cell phones in short spurts to kill time, like waiting in line at the grocery store. But they won't do it for hours, like they would on a Kindle. So no competition there. (Actually, iPhone eReaders are doing fairly well.)

The massive internet retailer, however, does seem to acknowledge Apple's enormous popularity in the cell phone market (at least here in the States) by creating an app for the platform. Amazon Veep Ian Freed thinks that iPhone users who enjoy Kindle for iPhone might be tempted to buy the real thing (for its longer battery life, better reading screen, etc?)

I don't know how sound Amazon's line of thinking is with this. In today's economy, it's more likely that people will just get the app and forego the new Kindle hotness. Then again, maybe they thought of that too.

If you?re selling an expensive single-use gadget in a down economy, wouldn't you look to strengthen your other revenue streams? Can't afford $359 for a Kindle? How about a free app and $9.99 for a best-selling title?

Amazon also has the added bonus of having an ever-present logo on one of the hottest smartphones in the American market. That's pretty nice branding.

As for Apple, the NYT seems to think that the app's acceptance into the store corroborates the company's indifference to the whole ebook market. The paper says that Steve Jobs even dissed the Kindle once: ?The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore.? Ouch, that's harsh. And, by the looks of things, far from true. Regardless, it seems like there's not a lot of love lost between the two companies.