The attentive reader of Kindle News knows that the Kindle (much like the Apple Mac) seems to imply hardware, or software, or both. By this I mean we first heard about the Kindle as the digital ebook reader now known as the Kindle 1 (and then the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX) Then Amazon announced the Kindle app for the iPhone, separating the Kindle reading experience from the Kindle hardware device. That was recently followed by the release of the Kindle reader software for Windows PCs. A Mac version is coming soon.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said essentially that the reading of Kindle books, and the hardware that we know as the Kindle are separate businesses. In that article Bezos specifically described the competitive environment inside the Kindle world:
The device team has the job of making the most remarkable purpose-built reading device in the world,” Mr. Bezos said. “We are going to give the device team competition. We will make Kindle books, at the same $9.99 price points, available on the iPhone, and other mobile devices and other computing devices.
Jeff Bezos saw the need to create a competitive environment inside Amazon for the Kindle device design team. As we all know, there are now more outside competitors, with the Barnes and Noble Nook making a strong run towards toppling the Kindle as the preferred eReader. Many have called it “Kindle killing,” or a Kindle incinerator (cute play on words there) and suggest Nook will “eat Kindle’s lunch.” All strong words, and so far most of the reviews seem to indicate the Nook lives up to the hype.
One interesting feature of the Nook is that it runs on the Google Android platform. So what, you might ask? Good question.
So far we have noted that Kindle books are able to be read not only on Kindles but on iPhones and Windows PCs (and soon the Mac). Clearly Amazon has developed a strong skill set at writing software to run on other platforms that can buy and read their eBooks.
The Nook runs the Google Android and the President of B&N has suggested that they may release an SDK (software development kit) for the Nook. An interesting move, and one that the author of the article noted above thinks might spell trouble for Amazon’s Kindle. I disagree.
Opening up the Nook with an SDK could mean that Amazon can slide in with another software based eReader, allowing Nook owners to choose between bookstores and selecting the copy of the book that provides the price and features they want most. (“Features” you make ask? Yes, some may trade a higher price in exchange for no copy protection, for instance. Just one of the “features” that could added as competition increases.
I see this as a great opportunity for consumers. Competition now exists on price-points for books between digital and paper. Add the possibility to choose between book retailers for digital versions and possibly to choose between features including DRM-free books, and a whole new world opens for avid readers.