Amazon's new "Send To Kindle" button is nothing original. Its functionality is exactly what we've already seen (and used) with apps like Instapaper and Pocket. But it's an important move for Amazon, which stands to benefit from capturing more of our fractured attention spans.
The more we turn to Amazon for ebooks, games, videos, PDFs, etc. — and now any article on the Web — the more money Amazon can potentially make off of us. Of course, Amazon hopes we'll read and watch all those things on its Kindle hardware, whether a dedicated e-reader or a full-fledged tablet like the Fire. But Amazon knows not all of us will buy its devices, so it's also built apps for just about every major platform, including the Web.
The company may not drive revenue directly with each feature and app, or even every hardware sale. But any time Amazon ropes us into its ecosystem, the odds of us giving it more of our money at some point increases.
Saving Things For Later Is Priceless
The premise of these time-shifting, read-stuff-later features is simple: You come across an interesting article while you're dicking around online, but you can't neglect your responsibilities long enough to read the entire thing. So you click a button and off it goes, into the cloud, where it's stripped of its gaudy visual fluff and can be recalled later in your reading app of choice. For some of us, having this option is indispensable.
With the rate at which new and worthwhile articles, videos and white papers fly at my face all day, I can't imagine not having the option to time-shift some of it. I would lose my mind.
I've been using Instapaper five years and I love it. When Pocket launched, sure, I was tempted by its rave reviews and sleek design. But switching seemed like too much work only to attain roughly the same exact functionality.
On Instapaper, my favorite articles are neatly stored in topical folders and, more importantly, a massive queue of things to read in the future perpetually awaited me. That queue silently guilt trips me enough as is. I can't just abandon it! More than anything, I just didn't feel comfortable packing up all my things and moving into a new, very similar app. I didn't want a new place to read.
But Amazon's Kindle iPad app? Hmm, maybe. The thing is, I'm already reading there. I don't even have a Kindle, but I've amassed a virtual bookshelf within the Kindle app, where I find myself doing more and more sustained reading.
Infiltrating Your Reading Habits One Button At A Time
If Amazon's "Send To Kindle" button winds up all over the Web, in news reading apps and in whatever replaces Google Reader, I just might be inclined to click it. The idea of time-shifting articles to the Kindle app is an easier one for me to swallow. The icon is already in my iPad's dock, right there next to Instapaper. Might as well, right?
This is exactly what Amazon wants. The more I turn to it for reading, watching and playing games, the more money it makes and the more likely I am to consider springing for a Kindle or Kindle Fire down the line.
For now, I'm still hooked on Instapaper and I use my iPad for too many things to consider switching to another tablet. But those things could change. In the meantime, I've got a shiny new bookmarklet in Chrome on the desktop, right near the one for Instapaper. Smooth move, Amazon.