Just days after Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) new Kindle hit the market, the small print is getting even smaller on Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone and iPod touch.
This morning's debut of Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch -- via Apple's popular App Store -- allows Kindle owners to access their collection of Amazon-stored electronic publications on their smaller gadgets. Using Amazon's Whispersync feature, someone can be reading an Amazon-purchased e-book on a Kindle and then seamlessly pick up where he or she left off on the Apple gizmo -- and vice versa. Readers can also bookmark pages or make notations on one device that will carry over to the other. If Sony (NYSE: SNE ) thought it was going to be tough to compete with Amazon's Kindle with its own e-book reader, the moat just got a little wider.
Sound cool? It does, but let's be realistic. Sure, the app is geared toward books, because iPhone users are unlikely to pay for newspapers or blogs that they can access on their own through Apple's built-in Safari browser. But no one is going to squint at Tolstoy on a tiny iPhone screen and perpetually scroll trough a long book. Apple iPhones and iPods are better suited for shorter reads and Web tasks. If anything, this app will trigger some ordering of Kindles and eyedrops from Amazon's storefront.
In short, this application is getting a lot of media buzz this morning, but for all of the wrong reasons. It's a popular download this week, but it's just not as practical as Amazon would lead you to believe.
Keeping your enemies close
This is no game-changer. What it is, though, is another step that Apple and Amazon are taking together.
Sure, the App Store is partner-agnostic. Even Apple's most notorious enemy -- Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) -- has a free App Store program. However, with Amazon and Apple fighting one another to sell digital music and video, it seems as if Apple has no problem steering clear of Amazon's turf when it comes to digital books. Even with Amazon trying to create an iTunes-esque ecosystem for e-books, Apple has no problem acting as a gateway to the Kindle Store.
There will come a time when Amazon and Apple have no choice but to duke it out. But not now. Not when there's a page to turn and a new chapter to read.
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