Amazon has announced Kindle Apps for Tablet Computers (including Kindle for iPad), a rather polished e-reader application that both makes the Kindle itself look rather old-fashioned and explains why last week’s Mac version was so unfinished: The Amazon developers have clearly been spending all their time on this instead.
The app offers all the usual Kindle features: Whispersync to keep your bookmarks and notes in sync between devices and the ability to load up any books you have previously bought. It also adds a lot of visual polish, from the obligatory page-turn animation (you can switch it off) to a fetching, full color grid-view of your library. You can adjust “paper” color, and change screen brightness from within the app.
Most interesting, though, is the way you buy books, which circumvents Apple’s 30% cut of in-app purchases. When you buy books, you are sent to the Kindle store in a web-browser to make your purchase (Amazon doesn’t say whether the screenshot comes from an in-app browser page, or Mobile Safari itself, but it makes no difference).
We also see a page on display which has a full-color photo. This will be ideal for cookbooks bought from Amazon, but it also sends Amazon’s own grayscale-only hardware to the back of the line. Still, the effort Amazon seems to have put in show that it is clearly focused on selling books, not the hardware the books are read on. That the app is almost certain to make it into the App store shows that the reverse is true with Apple: it wants the iPad to be the go-to media device, whatever that media may be.
Kindle Apps for Tablet Computers [Amazon]
This app not only makes the Kindle look antiquated, but even more the PC (and Mac) Kindle software. After trying to use the PC version on my table PC, I find the lack of full screen view and difficult navigation nearly inexcusable. Hopefully, Amazon will update this software to be more like what they’ve done on the iPad.
In the meantime, I’d say Kindle books will continue to sell well, but Amazon is going to have to make some major improvements to the Kindle hardware and/or drastically cut prices on the Kindle in order to keep selling many of them.