Kindle goes from device to platform

I suggested when Amazon launched Kindle 2, it would be a good idea for them to take the Kindle beyond a dedicated e-book reader and work to make it a platform

What Amazon most needs to do is make the Kindle a platform. Get content onto other devices like the iPhone ASAP so consumers can finally be taught how to read books and other long form content on mobile screens. At the end of the day as long as I”m buying my content from Amazon they should be cool with whatever device I’m reading it on (Even if they prefer I read it on a Kindle). This eco system push should have been part of today’s news. Bezos hinted at it when he talked about WhisperSync. It should have been explicit and part of today’s news.

Today’s news is that they’ve done just that. With the release of an iPhone Kindle App, the Kindle is now far more important than it was yesterday. While the Kindle hardware play isn’t dead, it’s important to remember that Amazon’s core business is selling books (and newspapers and magazines). The hardware was all about the content. Moreover, the $359 price point was too daunting to a lot of folks not familiar with the value proposition of the eBook. By leveraging the iPhone (and likely other devices) Amazon can allow users to begin to understand the notion of the eBook with little or no costs to them. Over time, many of them will opt for the premium experience of a larger screen, eInk and other features only found currently in the hardware version. For Kindle owners, it allows them to leverage their investment in content in places where it’s neither convenient or possible to carry the Kindle (waiting in line for example and using that time to read a few pages).

While there are other eBook readers in the iTunes store at the moment, some with more features than Amazon’s first offering, the Kindle app has now become the most important platform for eBooks in the market. If Amazon continues to leverage the strength of its offerings, we will see the emergence of a real mass market for eBooks and periodicals, something that has eluded the market for more than a decade.

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