Amazon, the Kindle, and the iPhone

November 25, 2008

Here’s a thing someone floated at me. What if Amazon released a Kindle-reading app for the iPhone?

It’s a thought, isn’t it?

After initial doubts – why would Amazon deliberately waste all that investment in the Kindle hardware? – I did come to the conclusion that the Kindle and iPhone demographics, while they certainly overlap, are by no means mutually inclusive. I don’t have figures on this, but my presumption is that the iPhone’s younger and/or early-adopter audience is not quite the same as the Kindle’s slightly older, less techy, but more hardcore booky audience (heavy genre readers, in romance and sci-fi, reading up to several books a week, are the core Kindle audience, I’ve heard). The Kindle’s larger screen and seamless connection to Amazon speak to a different audience than the iPhone’s portability and rootlessness.



  1. I’ve looked into other eReaders, but not the Kindle, so don’t know exactly what kind of format it uses. A lot of others use XML formats, so if Kindle does then it would be relatively easy to display on an iPhone, the challenge is more about how a user gets the books onto the device.

    Comment by atom — November 25, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  2. The Kindle uses HTML, although it’s wrapped in proprietary permissions, so such an app would only be possible if it came directly from Amazon, or was directly authorised by them.

    Comment by James Bridle — November 25, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

  3. Hullo.

    I’d love to see this; I read a lot of text on my iphone (mainly via Instapaper [1] and occasionally Stanza [2]); I can’t see myself purchasing/carrying around a dedicated reader like the Kindle (and I’ve really tried to justify the benefits to myself!), but I can see myself spending too much money on impulse purchases on that sync into a Kindle app on the iphone.

    But, I wonder how that model would work with Apple’s fairly draconian T&C’s? If it synced from the website into the App, that wouldn’t cause any issues, presumably?

    Obviously, Amazon’s motivations are to control the whole integration from publisher to consumption on a device – all those ‘you could be reading this on your Kindle in less than a minute call outs’ shows the ipod/itunes business model in action; I’m actually surprised they haven’t extended this to a dedicated app on the iphone.

    It would open up their sales to a much new audience, without the cost and complexity of running a hardware division…

    Maybe the Kindle is just a massive prototyping exercise, in anticipation of a slew of large screen, hi-res displays connected devices like the iphone?

    p.s. this reminded me – I saw on Teleread [3] that Pan Macmillan will be offering downloads into the Stanza ebook iphone app – can’t Amazon putting up with that for too long?

    And maybe Apple sees an extra revenue opportunity by providing DRM’d (booo!) ebooks via iTunes – they’ve got the whole infrastructure in place already; they already do that other form of ‘ebook’; audiobooks…


    Comment by Guy Dickinson — November 25, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  4. With apologies for terrible spelling.. :-s

    Comment by Guy Dickinson — November 25, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

  5. Well, the whole point of a reader like the Kindle is to make a screen that’s more book-like. The iPhone isn’t low-res by any means, but I doubt it manages nearly the same dpi as the Kindle, aside from using a regular LCD screen rather than E-Ink which takes more energy and doesn’t look as natural.

    I don’t think any E-readers on the market are “there” yet, but I definitely think there is, and will continue to be, a market for them. Especially once flexible/color e-ink screens become affordable enough to sell, so you could roll the device up to fix the visibility/portability conflict.

    Comment by DukeXC — November 26, 2008 @ 5:39 am

  6. […] Amazon, the Kindle, and the iPhone Published by Dan Hamilton on December 1, 2008 in Reads. […]

    Pingback by Amazon, the Kindle, and the iPhone | Late Night Pundit — December 1, 2008 @ 6:36 pm

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