A quick thought on why Amazon released a Kindle app for the iPhone

Thu, Mar 5, 2009


Early reviews of Amazon’s Kindle app for the iPhone and iPod Touch have been overwhelmingly positive, but it also begs the question as to why Amazon would willingly offer iPhone users the Kindle experience completely for free.  Not only might this cause existing Kindle owners to use their Kindle less (assuming they have an iPhone), but it might also dissuade current iPhone users from purchasing a Kindle in the first place.

The explanation, though, is quite simple.  Amazon sells a lot of shit online, and if anything, that’s an huge understatement.  They sell everything from DVD’s and TV’s, to children’s toys, furniture, books, and even clothing.  That said, one of the emerging areas for online downloads is e-books, and Amazon is trying to leverage its existing library of books onto this emerging market.  If anything, that’s why they came out with the Kindle in the first place. As opposed to Apple, Amazon isn’t expecting to make its money with hardware, but rather on software sales in the form of e-books.  So basically, while Amazon undoubtedly wants the Kindle to do well, it ultimately doesn’t seem to care which device users choose to read e-books on as long as those e-books were purchased from Amazon.com.  All in all, not a bad strategy.


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Graham Says:

    Good point. I suspect there’s are two additional rationales as well…

    1. eBooks are doing moderately well, and whilst Apple hasn’t shown interest in this area yet, Amazon may be concerned that in the future they will. Before Amazon’s app, eBooks in iPhones were an ad-hoc affair, with people loading them onto the App Store as bundled applications (with the notable exception of Stanza). Perhaps it was only a matter of time before Apple spotted the opportunity and came around to the idea. This little app is effectively Amazon’s beach-head into Apple’s territory.

    2. iPhone is not a very good eBook reader. Battery-life is poor for this type of application, and the iPhone’s screen is not ideal for reading long copy. I suspect that Amazon hopes this app will get people to try out eBooks, find they like the idea, and then upgrade to a proper hardware reader, or in other words, it’s intended to kindle their interest in eBooks (sorry!)

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