Home Amazon’s Kindle Comes to the iPhone

Amazon’s Kindle Comes to the iPhone

Amazon just released a free application for the iPhone and iPod touch (iTunes link) that allows users to download and read any eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store on Apple’s popular mobile devices. This move comes just a few days after Amazon’s Kindle 2 eBook reader arrived in users’ hands, but according to Ian Freed, an Amazon vice president, Amazon does not expect that this app will cannibalize Kindle sales as users will probably only use their phones to read for short periods.

Freed also argues that the Kindle has nothing to fear from the iPhone because of its superior screen and battery life.

All the Features You Expect, But No Built-In Store

After you have installed the app, a new option to send books (or free sample chapters) to your iPhone will appear in the Kindle store. Sadly, you can’t browse the Kindle store through the iPhone app itself, which is really a shame, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon made this an option in a later version. For now, you have to use Amazon’s website to buy books and that, of course, only works if you are in the U.S.

The actual app features most of the options you would expect from an eBook reader. You can change the font size, bookmark pages, and jump directly to different chapters. One major feature that is missing from this app, however, is the ability to add notes to your books.

If you own a Kindle 1 or 2, then the app will also sync your bookmarks and notes between your Kindle and iPhone/iPod touch.

The Authors Guild, by the way, has nothing to fear from the Kindle iPhone app, as Amazon did not add any text-to-speech functionality to the program.

There is nothing revolutionary about the application itself, but overall, it works well and, maybe most importantly, the text is highly legible. Of course, a lot of iPhone eBook applications already exist – and some of them, like Bookworm, Readdle, or Stanza are very good (and, unlike Amazon’s app support open standards), but none of these can match the selection of texts available in Amazon’s Kindle store – and this is where Amazon’s app really shines.

In the past, we wondered if the iPhone might just turn out to be the ultimate eBook reader (even though Steve Jobs famously proclaimed that Apple isn’t interested in the eBook market because nobody reads anymore). While Amazon is adamant that this app is only a complement to the Kindle, we can’t help but think that Amazon is hedging its bets with this app. After all, it’s still very early in the development cycle of both eBook readers and smartphones, and for now, it is anything but clear which devices users will prefer in the end.

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