Amazon to Make Kindle iPhone App for e-Book Reading?

The techeratti love the Kindle -- so what if it's only available in the US, is selling half-as well as the Zune, Apple targeted "reading" in a recent commercial, and Google just optimized their Books service for the iPhone? It's not like Amazon is making an iPhone reader too, is it?

Whoops! D - All Things Digital says Amazon may just be doing exactly that:

“We are excited to make Kindle books available on a range of mobile phones. We are working on that now,” an Amazon spokesman told the New York Times, while offering zero other details. [...] I’ve asked for more clarification, but I’m not hopeful–it’s difficult to get Amazon to acknowledge that the sun sets in the West. [UPDATE: Via email, an Amazon spokesman allows that "we are excited" but nothing else.] The big question is whether Amazon intends to sell titles that can be read on Apple’s (AAPL) handsets.

Makes sense. Amazon is essentially a software and services company, books for your shelves, movies for your player, even food for your fridge. They're not a consumer electronics manufacturer like Apple. Kindle-style E-Books would be a much better revenue generator for them if they -- like audio books -- could play on a variety of platforms. (We don't see Audible making their own proprietary MP3 player, do we?)

I'd love to see the Kindle's market place opened up to the iPhone. How about you? Want the latest best sellers, this term's text books, and the WSJ all beamed directly to your iPhone?

(Thanks to The Reptile for sending this in!)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Who Knew? Porn Stars Love the iPhone and Twitter Too!

Next up →

UPDATED: Apple Releases iPhone Carrier Update: Adds AT&T MicroCell Support

Reader comments

Amazon to Make Kindle iPhone App for e-Book Reading?


People have short memories about what worked and why. The iPod didn't exactly win out of the gate but did over time. Why? The evolution of iTunes. iTunes did not have the music store from Day 1. That didn't come out until years after Apple shipped the 1st iPod. iTunes was a success because it allowed for a digital transition of content. If people could not load their CD libraries into iTunes there is no way that the iPod would be the success that it is today.
Kindle has no chance of that happening. How are people with book collections going to scan their books to make them digital and load them on the Kindle? Also, they're in a business where people may buy books but they only read them once. And how do you share a Kindle book like so many people do with the hard copies? Magazines and newspapers? You can get that content online, so why use a Kindle? A nice try, but doomed for failure. This new strategy is more of an opportunity for them to win than with a Kindle hardware product. Now it's their brand against the existing book readers and more people recognize their brand than the others.

I'm hopeful at this—I'd love to be able to buy Kindle-cheap e-books to read on my iPod Touch—but also a little worried.
As it stands right now, the Kindle can read other bookstores' Mobipocket-format books—even encrypted books if they're locked to the Kindle's serial number at purchase time—but only if they're put through a converter process that flips a bit somewhere so the Kindle will recognize them.
I'm a bit worried that the "Kindle reader" for cell phones will work the same way: Kindle titles only, not Mobi (unless the bit has been flipped).
iPhone or iPod Touch-owning Mobipocket users who already had purchased DRM-locked books when they were reading on other devices have been waiting for a long time for an official iPhone Mobipocket client that could read their titles without their having to crack the DRM (technically illegal under US law).
Mobipocket announced in May that they would release an iPhone client last year, but never did. I was told by an industry insider speaking on condition of anonymity that they had one ready in August but Amazon forced them to sit on it.
Amazon's behavior with the Kindle has not been other-store friendly up to this point—they want to lock readers into their store. So rather than selling Kindle e-books as Mobipocket books and letting Mobi release their iPhone client, I strongly suspect that they will release a Kindle client that won't read "ordinary" Mobi books—and the iPhone users who have large DRM-locked libraries on Fictionwise or elsewhere will be in exactly the same position they were before of having to run their Mobipocket books through a converter app before they can read them on their device.

I've only seen the Kindle and it really doesn't look that inviting. It does work well from what I've read but as far as the iPhone goes there's some good ebook readers already available. And with eReader for example which is has been available on other platforms for quite some time now, capable of using a number of different formats from multiple venders a Kindle app is going to be hard pressed to make name for itself in the iPhone space. I just don't see it but hey, competition is good.

Just came across your blog on Google. Interesting post, you bring up a few good things to think about. Good luck with the blog.

I second Styleabaad, I lvoooe reading but it must be with an actual book. To truly understand and like a book, I must turn the pages and hear that sound, and smell the paper. It's just too important for me =) Plus, since I have extreme eye dryness I cannot look at a screen too long or they start burning, itching and watering, it's a total disaster.