Earlier today Amazon announced an interesting and important enhancement to the Kindle platform. It’s called Kindle Whispercast and on the surface it might seem pretty ho-hum. But when you think about the long-term possibilities it’s clear Whispercast could help establish the Kindle platform as the content distribution pipeline for schools and businesses.
Consider the typical business, for example. Today they have content all over the board. Employee handbooks are in print or maybe Microsoft Word format. Sales and marketing docs are in a variety of formats including spreadsheets, slides, PDFs and more. Formats are one thing but distribution capabilities are another. Some docs are emailed, others are on servers awaiting download and still others are just hard-copies sitting on someone’s desk.
How many times has a colleague said “I just read this great book…you should read it too”? In the past that meant you got the title and might follow-up by ordering a copy or stopping by your local bookstore. Now a manager or teacher can arrange to purchase the book and have it delivered to all their employee/student devices. Nice.
The tools to convert all that content into a Kindle-optimized format are spotty at best right now but if Amazon is smart they’ll invest in those conversion tools too. For example, could you imagine a “Save as Kindle file” option in all of your major content creation apps (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)? Follow that up with a “Send to Whispercast group” option and suddenly you’ve gone from content creation to distribution without ever leaving your original app.
At first it sounded as though Amazon was limiting this service to Kindle devices (eInk and Fires) but it looks like they also plan to offer it for all Kindle apps on other devices (e.g., iPad, Android, etc.) That’s a smart move too since it doesn’t force an organization to dump their current hardware and buy a bunch of Kindles. If users like the service well enough they might become Kindle hardware converts anyway. Again, very smart.