Apple approved Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader app on the iPhone today. A few days ago, it had allowed Indigo Books’ Shortcovers eBook store. In a previous post, I had speculated that Apple may not do so and try to sell eBooks itself. Not so. In the last two months, Apple has also allowed several third-party browsers – something many did not expect last year.
These deciscions indicate that Apple cares less about selling digital content (books, apps, games, music) and more about dominating the smart phone market; that it regards Nokia, Blackberry, Windows and Android as its competitors competitors – not Amazon. And that it regards building a profitable app ecosystem as a way to strengthen its position as the leading smart phone supplier. This seems like a very wise strategy.
Now that Apple has opened the door to companies who want to sell different forms of digital content on iPhones, one of these days, we may even see a digital music storefront show up in the App Store! And maybe some startups will try to create niche marketplaces to sell apps on the iPhone.
I did download the Kindle app on my iPod Touch. It looks like a rushed job – a land grab rather than a landmark. Right now, it is exactly what Amazon’s spokesperson calls it – a companion to Amazon’s Kindle device. A user cannot browse or buy books from the app; that can only be done online or via Safari. Not exactly, “1-click” shopping. Further, Amazon does not provide any free, off-copyright books. I expect App Store users to rate the Kindle app at 2.5/5. Still, not great news for startups like Lexcyle. Or for publishers who are troubled about Amazon’s power in the book industry and would prefer open formats like ePub rather than Amazon’s proprietary format.