First, it was Apple’s delay in approving apps that was a problem. Then Apple actually started removing (oops, “failing to approve”) the Google Voice app. Do we see another App Store war coming with the Kindle App?
With Apple’s release of the iPad, and their move into eReader book sales through the iBook, some have argued that Apple has just rung the bell, tolling the death of the Kindle. Others argue that, among other things, the Kindle meets a certain “niche” (just as the iPad serves a niche) and thus will not only survive but thrive. In fact, an Amazon spokesperson said, in that NY Times article:
Customers can read and sync their Kindle books on the iPhone, iPod Touch, PCs, and soon BlackBerry, Mac and iPad. Kindle is purpose-built for reading. Weighing in at less than 0.64 pounds, Kindle fits comfortably in one hand for hours, has an E Ink display that is easy on the eyes even in bright daylight, two weeks of battery life, and 3G wireless with no monthly fees — all at a $259 price. Kindle editions of New York Times best sellers and most new releases are only $9.99.
This is a key strength of the Kindle –the portability of reading. As I have written before, in several places, a move to ubiquitous reading seems to be the greatest opportunity facing publishers. Make reading your books, or magazine, tied to the reader, not the device. With the Kindle publishing/software reader business unit Amazon is heading down that road. I can move from Kindle-enabled device to device, and when I pick up a device, it will automatically sync to where I last was reading in any of the other devices. This actually makes having several different devices quite attractive, so that I can use the device that is most convenient for the task (or location) at hand.
So that brings us to the “Kindle reading experience” on the iPhone. I personally like the Kindle app for the iPhone. In some ways it is superior to the Kindle itself, specifically in how it handles highlighting and notetaking.1 This makes the iPad a very attractive device to me, as a Kindle reader for those tasks when I want to highlight and take notes, generally for work-related reading. I can even see Amazon enhancing the app on the iPhone/iPad even further, perhaps blending the Kindle App with Stanza for a better reading experience.
Even the author of the article in the NY Times that put forward “Three Reasons why the iPad WILL kill the Amazon Kindle” has conceded that the Kindle app has significant draw:
Kindle’s store and its reading application for the iPhone are both excellent, simple experiences for purchasing and consuming books. Amazon understands this market better than anyone and could easily sell more books on the iPad than Apple could through its new iTunes bookstore. Amazon also offers an excellent recommendation system, and I can envision some users opting for the Kindle application on their fancy new iPads.
I can actually envision more than “some users” opting for the Kindle application–especially if they are able to develop a similar flashy interface for showing your bookshelf, and helping you “buy” books from Amazon. Don’t forget–a significant number of people have already heavily invested in the DRM’d (copy protected) books sold by Amazon, and they will not want to leave that investment behind. Will they opt then for what will be (most likely) another DRM’d book format? Say what you will about the fact that the Amazon books aren’t portable, there is some comfort in having all the books you purchased available for download from a single repository. Avid Kindle readers may not want to leave that behind.
So the question becomes: will Apple now “ban” the Kindle App (and possibly Stanza) for the same reason that it banned other apps, including the Google Voice app? The reason, as you may recall, was that the app “duplicated functionality” that the phone provided. Other apps have been rejected (er, “not approved” — sorry) for the same reason. Clearly, by entering into the eBook sales business they are seeking to directly compete with Amazon in this “space.”
What do YOU think? Will Apple ban the Kindle App in the near future?
- I still prefer the eInk display over an LCD display for long-term reading, since it is easier on the eyes ↩