kindle and iphone

I still have no particular personal interest in a handheld e-book reader. But I have a professional interest, because I think these are the harbingers of what’s inevitably coming, like it or not (and I don’t entirely like it), in the next decade or so.

So here’s an interesting thing. You can now download free Kindle software for your iPhone, and read Kindle content on the iPhone.

I don’t know enough about the Kindle to know how full-featured this software is, compared to actually having a hardware Kindle.  But it’s kind of a surprising choice, because I believe an iPhone is actually cheaper than a Kindle.  A Kindle may (?) provide a somewhat better reading experience (how long until Apple releases a tablet-sized iPhone? Return of the Newton!), but you can have everything that comes with an iPhone plus Kindle functionality for cheaper… I don’t see the Kindle being that competetive.

Of course, the monthly charges on the iPhone will get you — although the monthly charges get you voice service etc.  The Kindle, somewhat oddly, has some amount of cellular internet access, which I believe is actually absolutely free with no monthly charge — including limited access to the open web.  This is really true, right? It always seemed like an odd business model.

Apple famously uses the iTunes music store as basically a loss leader to sell iPods. I wonder what Amazon’s business model here is, it almost seems like they’re doing the reverse, the Kindle is just a way to sell e-content, and if they can open up that market to the iPhone too and sell more content, fine with them even if it means fewer Kindle sales.

I wonder how hackable the Kindle DRM is when embedded in software on an iPhone.

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3 Responses to kindle and iphone

  1. Doug says:

    “I believe an iPhone is actually cheaper than a Kindle”

    That depends on how you figure the costs. AT&T’s iPhone unlimited 3G data plan adds $30 per month to the cost of the calling plan, and you sign a two year contract. Amazon included the lifetime data plan in the cost of the Kindle.

    So: iPhone $200 + ($30 x 24) = $920
    Kindle $360 + zip = $360

    That’s $560 I can spend on eBooks, in the first two years, before I’ve caught up to the cost of an iPhone (and three $10 best sellers every month after that).

  2. Doug says:

    Of course my comment is a bit disingenuous, since I have an iPhone (Gen 1, unlocked and jail-broken) without any data plan, and you can buy an iPod Touch for $230, also with no data plan, and load the Kindle books over your own (or anyone else’s) internet connection.

    In the iPod Touch scenario $360 gets you a device and 13 $10 best sellers, instead of a device and a lifetime data plan. Much more competitive than the iPhone.

  3. The Kindle screen is about twice the size of an iPhone/iPod touch. Jakob Nielsen finds that it’s faster to read on: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/kindle-usability-review.html.

    I’ve tested out a Kindle and the Kindle iPhone software. I’m not impressed with either. Amazon’s distribution network is impressive. And I’ve (happily) read several books with other iPhone software. So I think we’re within striking distance of widescale ebook adoptation.

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