Amazon Kindle App Gets Friendlier with Apple, Android (Update)

Posted by: Cliff Edwards on June 28, 2010

Amazon.com Inc., the world’s biggest Internet retailer, doesn’t plan to cede ground in its growing digital books business.
To that end, it’s adding features to the application that make its digital books available on competing devices — a move designed to ensure it won’t lose sales even as consumers read books on rivals’ machines and Apple makes enhancements to its own digital book application.
The Seattle-based company announced that Kindle books on Apple Inc.’s iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch will be able to offer embedded video and audio clips. The move comes just days after Apple added new features to its iBook application for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices, including over-the-air syncing of bookmarks and notes, easy PDF viewing and new font choices. The online retailer quickly followed that with another announcement June 28, that it had begun offering its Kindle app in Google Inc.’s Android Market for Android-powered phones such as the Sprint EVO made by HTC and Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S line of phones, which will be carried by all four major U.S. carriers this summer.
Analysts have said dedicated eBook reader devices such as the Kindle could lose ground in coming years to devices like the iPad, which offer full color screens and are capable of doing other tasks, including viewing video.
Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has said the company plans to release a new, sleeker version of the Kindle, with an upgraded screen, in August. Amazon slashed the price of the Kindle 2 to $189 from $259 on June 21 after retailer Barnes & Noble cut the price of its Nook reader to $199.
Even as Amazon attempts to maintain its hefty market share for dedicated reader devices, the Apple move makes clear that Amazon sees the real threat coming from all manner of devices that can sell books, music and other content that helped make it a household name. Its strategy to make the Kindle application not only available on rival devices such as the iPad but more sophisticated could pay off in the short term as it readies its own color-enabled device. So far, Bezos has been tentative about the color market, and most recently said an LCD-type device is a long ways off because it can’t be read well in the sunlight.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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