I've finally gotten some time to comment on the recent moves by Amazon to provide eBook reading and access to their eBook content on the iPhone/iTouch platform.
Thanks to readers for pointers to these articles on the subject
Amazon now provide a free iPhone application for eBook purchase/download/reading. It's available from Apple's iPhone App Store.
I see this as a great move for Amazon, as it will drive content purchases for Kindle and non-Kindle users alike. Although details of it are still missing. e.g. Do you need a Kindle/Kindle-account or anyone can sign-up?
People have asked me about the "competition" in eReading between iPhone and similar devices and eBook readers. I don't see them as directly as competitive, but as complementary devices.
Often have your phone and some time to kill. When you have more time and access to your Kindle, it provides a better reading experience.
I think Amazon have done a smart thing by embracing the iPhone and not considering it as direct competition to the Kindle.
It's also a smart defensive and growth move.
Defensive: The Kindle business seems to be going just fine for now, but if it turned out to not be the preferred reading device/experience long-term, this move puts Amazon right in the game on the leading candidate for an alternative platform - the iPhone. Also, if Apple ever comes out with anything bigger along the lines of the iPhone (like the much-rumored iPhone internet tablet) then they will be right there. If that does happen we might see some direct Apple-Amazon competition. This move clearly states Amazon's intentions and let's Apple know they'll be a fight for content on such a platform.
Growth: The market for the Kindle solution is limited, with plenty of people not wanting another device, and prefering the iPhone alone. If Amazon stuck to just selling content to Kindle users (ignoring MobiPocket, an Amazon business, for the moment) they would be missing a lot of content sales, the part of the business with the best margins.
While the rest of the world wait for the Kindle outside of the US, this also opens Amazon's content store to all those iPhone users world-wide, leveraging Apple's efforts to get the carrier agreements in place. Those agreements are something Amazon will have to replicate each time it brings the Kindle, with it's Whispernet delivery service, to a new country.
With 240,000 books in Amazon's catalog (and newspapers and magazines also) it comes straight in as great competition to other iPhone eReading solutions (which I've covered here in previous posts). I haven't seen much on the reading software itself yet, so I'll be looking to see how it shapes up. No doubt they will try and make it as similar in operation to the Kindle as possible.
Reading the same content between/across multiple devices does introduce the problem of keeping your reading in sync. Especially when the devices have different sized displays and features to adjust text size and hence pagination. Due to these, a user can't just remember a page number and jump to it on the other device as the page number for the same point in the book will be will be different on each device.
In texts with long sections or chapters that can be a pain, and have you searching through them for paragraphs you recognize until you find where you left off on the other device.
I'd touched on this useful feature in previous posts and glad to see it supported.
Now, we need to take a look at the reading software itself, but that's for a future post.