If you can't beat 'em...
You could be forgiven for thinking that Amazon - the e-book pioneer - has already given up the battle for the e-reader market with its latest release. The giant e-tailer has announced you can now view embedded video and listen to audio clips on the Kindle app it offers on the Apple app store.
While this might be a slightly counter-intuitive innovation for a book, there may be a place for multimedia in book reading - especially children's books we imagine. The broader significance of this announcement concerns Amazon innovations appearing on Apple devices before its own Kindle.
While it could well be that the Kindle doesn't currently possess the technology to support this kind of functionality, it's still remarkable to see Amazon putting so much effort into developing technology on what is essentially a competitive platform.
"We are excited to add this functionality to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch," said Dorothy Nicholls, director of Amazon Kindle. "Readers will already find some Kindle Editions with audio/video clips in the Kindle Store today--from Rose's Heavenly Cakes with video tips on preparing the perfect cake to Bird Songs with audio clips that relate the songs and calls to the birds' appearances."
Amazon has also revealed that the Kindle app is now optimised for the new display on the iPhone 4. This all says to us that, for Amazon, Kindle is no longer (if it ever was) about selling devices, but about selling e-books. The Kindle device has served the function of seeding the e-book market, and there are now lots of specialised e-readers available on the market,
On top of that we're in the middle of what promises to be an explosion of tablet computers. Amazon's strategy appears to be to ensure that, no matter which device a consumer is using, they buy their e-books from Amazon. That makes sense as it plays far more to Amazon's strengths as an etailer than trying to market and sell its own device, but is not a great sign for Kindle device owners.