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Amazon's Kindle May Crash at the iPad

Amazon's Kindle May Crash at the iPad

Amazon is developing an app that will let iPad owners have the Kindle e-book reader experience -- including access to the Kindle bookstore, of course. It's not a given that Apple will approve it, but Cabrini College marketing professor Scott Testa believes it's likely. "That FTC investigation over Google Voice really spooked Apple," he said.

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
03/23/10 8:23 AM PT

Amazon has announced it is readying an app to read Kindle e-books on Apple's iPad, as well as on other tablet computer devices. There are already Kindle apps for the Mac, PC, iPhone and BlackBerry.

The Kindle app for the iPad will aim to marry the best of both offerings. Users will be able to read their books on the bigger form factor of the iPad while taking advantage of Kindle's whispersynch technology to download content.

The app will have the same features found on the Kindle e-book reader, such as the ability to create bookmarks, make notes and highlight text.

Amazon is not the only e-reader manufacturer developing an app for the iPad. Barnes & Noble, which rolled out the Nook e-book reader at the end of last year, is also developing an app for the iPad.

A number of publishers have announced iPad apps in the works as well, including The Associated Press, Conde Nast and The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reportedly was supplied with a rare prototype of the device -- kept under lock and key -- for development of its app.

E-Book Pricing Scuffle

Neither Amazon nor Barnes & Noble has been given a prototype, according to news accounts. If true, it's not surprising. Tensions between Amazon and Apple regarding the pricing of e-books have ratcheted up significantly over the past several weeks.

Essentially, in order to lure publishers to its platform, Apple has agreed to allow them to set prices for e-books as they see fit. Amazon has been fighting to keep pricing in line with the average US$9.99 e-book price that it established with publishers.

Against this background, it would seem bold of Amazon to begin work on an app, as Apple could easily reject it -- as it has done in many cases with iPhone apps.

The FTC Looms

Apple probably would reject the Amazon app for the iPad -- and the Barnes & Noble app as well -- "but that FTC investigation over Google Voice really spooked Apple," Cabrini College marketing professor Scott Testa told MacNewsWorld. "For that reason, I think these apps are going to be approved."

Apple also doesn't want to deal with the barrage of criticism it would get from the public if it kept the Kindle off the iPad, he added.

Enemy Territory

Amazon's motives in developing an app for enemy territory are equally compelling, Testa added. "Basically, it is a book seller. They may make money off of the hardware, but they also do selling the content. They have a vested interest in making their platform as open as possible to keep their customers -- who may well want to own more than one e-reader device -- as happy as possible."

Divide and Conquer

It may even suit Amazon to have its customers try out the iPad, according to James Brehm, senior consultant and director of business development in Frost & Sullivan's information and communication technology practice.

"I am not sold that the iPad's backlit display will give the best e-reader experience," he told MacNewsWorld. "I haven't seen the device, of course, but based on what I have read, I think the Kindle is going to have the better display experience for readers."

Even if it doesn't, Amazon does not want to cut off the 5 million potential iPad buyers expected for this year, he added.

For the first few years at least, Amazon has little to worry about from the iPad, Brehm said. "Five million is not a lot of devices -- and not all will be connected to the Internet. I believe Amazon will sell more devices this year than the iPad."


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