With the launch of the much hinted Kindle iPhone app, many analysts and observers somehow believe that this app might cannibalize Kindle sales. But Kindle for iPhone does no such thing.
There is a two pronged strategy behind the iPhone version of the Kindle:
1) Strengthen Kindle Loyalty
Kindle owners are thrilled with the iPhone app announcement…because most of them own iPhones. I’ve heard many Kindle owners state, “I can now leave my Kindle at home. I’ll use my iPhone to read on the bus or train.” The iPhone app increases their satisfaction and builds their loyalty to the Kindle.
2) Entice Kindle Purchases from Likely Kindle Buyers
After using the Kindle app on my iPhone pretty extensively post-launch, there’s just no way it would become a main reading device. It is very convenient, however, to read a couple of pages while standing in a line or waiting for a friend. The app would be considerably more valuable, however, if I had an extensive library at my fingertips.
As an iPhone-only Kindle “owner,” I’m not that interested in making many Kindle purchases without owning an actual Kindle. I don’t want to read a 400+ page book on an iPhone-sized screen. Being a gadget hungry iPhone owning consumer though, my Kindle app entices me to think about a Kindle purchase. Amazon knows the number of iPhones in the market; it also knows that iPhone owners are likely Kindle buyers.
I’ve used every iPhone book reader, most recently including Shortcovers. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Apps like Stanza offer better reading experiences, while others like Shortcovers offer innovative features like purchasing individual chapters. The Kindle for iPhone as a standalone app is nothing special. But with the Amazon Kindle library behind it, whispersync, and an actual reading device (i.e., Kindle or Kindle 2), it’s a strong sell.
It’s exciting to see this space innovating (a little). Google Book Search, Shortcovers, Plastic Logic, Amazon, and others are looking at bringing books, periodicals, out-of-print works still under copyright, etc. into the world of 0’s and 1’s.