Amazon preps Kindle app for iPad

Promises e-reader software for Apple's new tablet, doesn't disclose ship date

Amazon today announced that it will release Kindle software for Apple's iPad, a move one analyst said was in line with the e-tailer's earlier releases of viewing software for the PC, Mac, iPhone and Blackberry.

A page on Amazon's site specifically mentions the iPad as one of the tablet platforms that the company's Kindle software will support. Although Amazon did not specify a ship date for the iPad edition, the New York Times reported that it would not be available April 3 , when Apple delivers pre-ordered iPads to customers and starts selling them in its own stores.

According to Amazon, the iPad version of Kindle will have the same functionality as the year-old iPhone software , including Whispersync for synchronizing last page read, bookmarks and more across multiple devices; and the ability to buy Kindle-formatted books via the iPad's Safari browser.

The move is just more of the same, said Allen Weiner, the analyst at Gartner who covers e-readers . "This plays into Amazon's strategy to be on a variety of [devices], including the PC and the iPhone," said Weiner. "It's a no-lose proposition for Amazon."

Barnes and Noble announced two weeks ago that it is working on software for the iPad.

It's unclear how third-party online bookstores will mesh, if at all, with Apple's own iBook app and the titles the hardware maker will sell from its own online mart, said Weiner. "This raises questions, but I've talked to lots of people in the know, and they can't quite figure it out. There will undoubtedly be tension between buying books directly from the iPad [through iBook] and buying books from the App Store, such as through the Kindle application," he said. "There's going to be a lot of confusion and tension until this gets settled."

While it's not a slam dunk that Apple will approve Amazon's iPad app, it's unlikely, given the already-available iPhone software as well as the antitrust threat if Apple refused Amazon or Barnes and Noble a spot. "The courts would hand them their heads," Weiner said.

But the competition from the likes of Amazon and Barnes and Noble should benefit consumers, Weiner continued. " E-book buyers are very price sensitive," he noted. "A dollar to them makes a big difference."

Last week, Amazon released Kindle software for Apple's Mac notebooks and desktops.

Weiner wasn't sure how the Kindle move to the iPad would affect Amazon's hardware business. Some, including ZDNet blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes , argued today that it means the Kindle is "toast." Weiner wasn't that sure Amazon would toss in the towel.

"My hunch is that [Amazon] will come out with another device, one that allows more media to be consumed," Weiner said. "Amazon sells a tremendous amount of digital content -- music, movies -- besides books."

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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