If you can’t beat ‘em…
E-tail giant Amazon has announced it's adding Android to the list of operating systems it's releasing a free Kindle app for. The app allows you to read e-books bought from Amazon on other devices and also sync your bookmarks across devices.
Amazon has already released free Kindle apps for the PC, Mac, iPhone/iPod, BlackBerry (US only) and, most significantly, the iPad. This embrace of other devices could be viewed as capitulation by Amazon, but is being spun as an accessory for Kindle owners.
"Kindle for Android is the perfect companion application for Kindle and Kindle DX owners, and is also a great way for customers to enjoy over 540,000 books in the Kindle Store even if they don't yet have a Kindle," said Jay Marine, director of Amazon Kindle. "We think customers are going to love the convenience and simplicity of having instant access to a massive selection of books from Amazon on their Droid, Nexus, Incredible and many more Android devices."
The release of Kindle for Android, which won't actually happen until this summer, is significant as much for the wave of Android tablet launches that are likely to commence in a couple of weeks at Computex as for Android smartphones. We haven't tried to read a book on a three inch screen, but we doubt it's a very satisfactory experience.
Amazon, Google and Apple are locked in a battle for e-book supremacy. Amazon was first to the party - already being a dominant book etailer - with the Kindle, but Google has been scanning millions of books as part of its Google Books project, leading Amazon to take legal action. When Apple launched the iPad, its new iBooks deals with the major publishers got Amazon's nose seriously out of joint.
So, in one sense, the release of free Kindle apps for iPhone and soon Android is a capitulation, but it's also a competitive move. Amazon has acknowledged that Apple and Google are here to stay as e-book competitors and released apps to remind users of their respective mobile platforms there is an e-book alternative.