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Kindle Comes to the iPhone

Users of the iPhone and iPod Touch can now tap into Amazon’s Kindle store with the free Kindle for iPhone application. From The New York Times:

The move comes a week after Amazon started shipping the updated version of its Kindle reading device. It signals that the company may be more interested in becoming the pre-eminent retailer of e-books than in being the top manufacturer of reading devices.

Amazon is positioning the iPhone app as a gap filler: nibble on book content while waiting at the airport, in line, at a restaurant, etc., but settle in for deep reading with the original Kindle (or, presumably, the printed edition). Toward that end, the Times says Amazon is using a bookmark feature that keeps a reader’s spot as they switch devices.

Reaction to the Kindle iPhone App

I’ll be adding to this list over the next few days as more coverage appears (I highly recommend following the real-time Kindle trend on Twitter). Please share additional links and your own Kindle/iPhone analysis through the comments area.


Hands on: Kindle for iPhone a great Kindle companion

(Chris Foresman, Ars Technica)

Clicking on the “Get Books” button on the Home screen instructs users to got to Amazon’s Kindle Store via a computer for “the best shopping experience.” And they aren’t kidding; while there is a link that will open the Kindle Store in MobileSafari, browsing and buying books this way is just plain frustrating. The Kindle’s own integrated buying is far simpler in comparison. Apple presumably has this restriction in place so that developers don’t abuse the App Store system, giving away free apps on Apple’s dime and then selling content elsewhere. Perhaps Amazon can build an iPhone-browsable version of the Kindle Store and display it via an embedded browser, or better yet, perhaps Amazon and Apple can come to some sort of agreement to allow in-app purchasing.

First Impressions of Kindle on iPhone
(Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD)

… it is a solid basic app for reading books, and is especially valuable if you already own a hardware Kindle, as I do. In my brief tests, the iPhone app synchronized rapidly and perfectly with my purchased library of Kindle books on Amazon’s servers, and allowed me to retrieve a previously purchased e-book, without paying again, just as my hardware Kindle does. It also synchronized to the furthest page I had read in that book on my Kindle. After reading for awhile on the iPhone, I performed that process in reverse, and my Kindle took me to the same spot where I had quit reading on the iPhone.

Kindle for iPhone Review
(Perrin Stewart, 148Apps)

… it’s worth having the app on your device for the access to Amazon’s virtual library alone. In many cases, the pricing on Kindle versions of books are much cheaper than other ebook stores (compare the Kindle version of “The Graveyard Book” for $9.99 to the Fictionwise version which is $17.99 and the stand-alone iTunes store app which is $17.99, for instance), and they often have books that other stores do not.

Comparing Kindle 2 with Kindle’s iPhone app
(Nicole Lee, Crave/CNET)

If you don’t read that much, or if you plan on using the e-book reader as merely a complement to your reading, the iPhone Kindle application is probably enough for you. But if you want something that will not only complement, but replace, a lot of your reading material, the Kindle is a much better bet.

Kindle iPhone app off to promising start despite eBabel/DRM and page turning annoyance
(David Rothman, TeleRead)

I can use the scroll bar to navigate my way through the whole book all the way to end. No need to go back and forth constantly to a chapter-by-chapter menu that provides just a certain range of pages at a time. Here’s rooting for Stanza and others to catch up! Granted, the Kindle iPhone/Touch app is sluggish when you use the scrollbar on an entire book. But I suspect this will get better with time. What’s more, you can go to individual pages by typing in their numbers.

Amazon launches Kindle app for iPhone, iPod touch
(Charles Starrett, iLounge)

Like the Kindle itself, the Kindle iPhone app is only available in the U.S. iTunes Store, and Kindle content is likewise only available to Amazon U.S. customers, differing from competing iPhone apps eReader and Stanza, which seem to have no country-based distribution restrictions on their apps or their content.

Amazon Extends Book Sales Beyond Its Kindle to iPhone
(Geoffrey A. Fowler, Wall Street Journal)

Mr. [Ian] Freed [Amazon vice president] said he is “not at all concerned” that making e-books available on other devices will cannibalize sales of the $359 Kindle. Instead, it will increase sales of digital books and the Kindle, he says. Amazon says it plans to release applications to read Kindle books on other devices, but declined to specify which ones.


Kindle iPhone App Launches, E-Book Sales To Jump? (AAPL, AMZN)

(Dan Frommer, Silicon Alley Insider)

So what will this mean for Kindle sales? And e-book sales? Reading a book on an iPhone isn’t ideal, but we think it could suffice for some people. So there could be some cannibalization of Kindle device sales, and the e-book sales that go along with Kindles. Or perhaps people will try one Kindle book on their iPhones and rush to buy a Kindle. Either is possible. We also think — based on the fact that there are likely 10-15 million iPhones and iPod touches in the U.S., and fewer than 1 million Kindles — that Amazon could see a boost in e-book sales from this app.

Attempting to use the Kindle for iPhone application
(C.K. Sample III, Obsessable)

The application allows you to read any book that you have purchased on the Amazon Kindle Store on your iPhone and iPod touch. You cannot purchase titles directly from the application, but you can do so via Mobile Safari. When you first load the program and set up your account, if you click on the Get Books button it takes you to a page informing you that the best way to do so is to visit the Kindle Store and clicking on the Safari link takes you directly to the store. [Links included in original post.]

Amazon launches Kindle application for the iPhone
(Greg Kumparak, Mobile Crunch)

One of the big features here is WhisperSync, which automatically keeps track of where you left off in each book, allowing you to pick up from that spot from any Kindle-friendly devices you may have. The feature didn’t seem too useful when the Kindle 2 was announced (How many people have more than one Kindle?) – but with Amazon stretching Kindle across multiple platforms, it makes perfect sense. Leave your Kindle on the bed side table, pick up where you left off on your iPhone once you’re on the bus.

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  • http://twitter.com/steve_hamilton Steve_Hamilton

    Mysteriously absent from Kindle for iPhone is text-to-speech… I think this is a deliberate omission to make the app available sooner, rather than a result of the rights issue surrounding the technology. Updating this app to use text-to-speech is a no-brainer; people have been trained for years to use iPods (and derivatives) for audio.

  • http://toc.oreilly.com/mac-slocum Mac Slocum

    @Steve: And since the iPod and iPhone already have a large number of accessories, it would be easy to plug in an iPhone to an FM transmitter and have the book “read” to you as you drive.

  • http://www.gemsouk.com junior

    thanks for the info

  • bowerbird

    you have to say this for the kindle initiative from amazon.

    it has made more observers say more stupid things than

    anything else out there now, _including_ the .epub format

    (which is in second-place, far ahead of the rest of the pack,

    thanks to the tireless efforts of rothman, chief cheerleader.)

    for instance, this was tim o’reilly, just 2 weeks ago in forbes:

    > Unless Amazon embraces open e-book standards like epub,

    > which allow readers to read books on a variety of devices,

    > the Kindle will be gone within two or three years.

    that’s unbelievably stupid.

    hey, looks like kindle-books are now readable on iphone,

    even though amazon hasn’t “embraced” .epub as a format.

    like i said, unbelievably stupid.

    but hey, it gets worse! this is _the_new_york_times_:

    > It signals that the company may be more interested in

    > becoming the pre-eminent retailer of e-books

    > than in being the top manufacturer of reading devices.

    ya think? amazon as a retailer of books? that’s a shocker.

    (and what makes it doubly stupid is that they can be both

    “pre-eminent” retailer _and_ top hardware manufacturer.)

    and then there’s this, from 148apps:

    > it’s worth having the app on your device for

    > the access to Amazon’s virtual library alone.

    ok, that’s not really “stupid”, it’s just bloody _obvious_

    that amazon’s biggest advantage is its content array…

    148apps continues:

    > In many cases, the pricing on Kindle versions of books

    > are much cheaper than other ebook stores (compare

    > the Kindle version of “The Graveyard Book” for $9.99

    > to the Fictionwise version which is $17.99 and the

    > stand-alone iTunes store app which is $17.99, for instance),

    > and they often have books that other stores do not.

    not only do they have a _lot_ of books, but they sell _cheap_!

    who knew this about amazon? tens of millions of people is all.

    or consider this, from crave/cnet:

    > If you don’t read that much, or if you plan on using the

    > e-book reader as merely a complement to your reading,

    > the iPhone Kindle application is probably enough for you.

    > But if you want something that will not only complement,

    > but replace, a lot of your reading material,

    > the Kindle is a much better bet.

    now that’s one observer with _sharp_insight_, don’t you think?

    cnet is so lucky to have such a brilliant mind working for them.

    but silicon alley insider has some astute analysts as well:

    > We also think — based on the fact that there are likely

    > 10-15 million iPhones and iPod touches in the U.S.,

    > and fewer than 1 million Kindles — that Amazon

    > could see a boost in e-book sales from this app.

    whoa! i bet that thought never even occurred to amazon itself…

    but it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? increase customer base

    by growing it 20 times, and you will probably make more sales.

    oh sure, it’s _obvious_ once you hear it, but this guy said it first!

    that’s why he gets paid the big bucks. he is worth every penny.

    and finally, there’s rothman, or “the idiot” as people like to call him:

    > I can use the scroll bar to navigate my way

    > through the whole book all the way to end

    see how he tuned right in to the incredibly innovative interface?

    a _scrollbar_, with which a reader can go from beginning to end!

    what will they think of next?

    ***

    and this is all from the quotes that mac gleaned from other articles,

    and we can presume that he pulled out the _best_ stuff from them.

    so i can’t even begin to imagine how insipid the rest of their s**t is…

    -bowerbird

    [Edited for language]

  • http://www.carolynjewel.com Carolyn Jewel

    I don’t have a Kindle (too expensive) but I do have an iPhone which I already use to read books mostly via Stanza and Fictionwise. Yesterday, I bought my first book on the Kindle iPhone app. I went to the Amazon website to purchase my test case book. It was easy. When I went to the iPhone app about 10 seconds later, there was the book I’d just purchased. I read most of it yesterday and will finish today.

    My thoughts:
    1) I like the Stanza app better for page turning (tap instead of swipe.)

    2) Since I only have one book on the Kindle app so far , I can’t compare file management.

    3) I immediately realized it’s going to be a PITA to remember which app (Stanza, eReader, Kindle) has a particular book. What a mess that’s going to be. I should be able to read the books with any reader.

    4) I once tried to buy a book on FictionWise via the iPhone. Massive massive FAIL. I’ll never ever do that again. From what I hear, it’s no better for Amazon. Buying anything via the iPhone probably needs to be addressed.

    5) Pricing at Fictionwise has stopped me from buying in the past. I’ve been willing, but I don’t care to be ripped off. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. My Amazon book was $5.59 for a mass market paperback. Fair enough.

    6) While getting Ficitionwise purchases onto my iPhone was pretty simple, it was still more steps than the Kindle app which was basically zero steps. That’s a problem for Fictionwise/B&N to solve quickly.

    7) Amazon totally wins in the ease of use dept. My book was simply there on my iPhone. I didn’t have to stress about how to find it. I just started reading. And that means if I have to choose between eBook buying experiences, I’m going to pick Amazon every time. Another problem for Fictionwise/B&N to fix.

    I’ll definitely buy more books this way.

  • bowerbird

    nice summary, carolyn…

    low prices. wide selection. ease of purchase.
    format fluidity. ease of use. viewer functionality.

    all pretty obvious to anyone who was listening…

    so, are the publishers listening?

    (yes, it’s rhetorical.)

    -bowerbird