Why Amazon Must/Will Bring Kindle Content to Phones


Image 1 for post iPhone getting a Mobipocket eBook client. What's that mean for Amazon's Kindle?( 2008-05-19 13:27:15) Wow, all of this eBook news and it isn’t even “Read an eBook” week! Yes, that week actually does exist and it’s fast approaching: mark down March 8 -14, 2009 on your cal. Oh right: so what’s the news?

Turns out that a New York Times article pointed to by MobileRead offers the following tidbit today:

“Also Thursday, Amazon said that it was working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones. The company, which is expected to unveil a new version of the Kindle next week, did not say when Kindle titles would be available on mobile phones.”

This follows hot on the heels of Google (s goog) offering 1.5 million public domain titles on mobile handsets, so the timing is interesting. Plus we all have expectations of the second Kindle announcement on Monday of next week. Might we hear more about mobile phone content at the same time?

Although Amazon’s Kindle is great device that helps sell content and add revenue for Amazon (s AMZN), the move to offer content on other devices makes sense. Not everyone is going to plunk down $400 for a dedicated eBook reader. Most of those same folks do however, already own a capable mobile phone handset. Why not add those devices to the potential revenue stream?

Technically it shouldn’t be a huge challenge since Amazon uses a slightly tweaked version of Mobipocket’s DRM. Perhaps it’s too much of a leap here, but I suspect that Amazon would offer content for an updated Mobipocket software client. The software can already download titles from the web using the phone’s connection, so it simulates one of the best features of the Kindle. Currently, Mobipocket works on the PC, PalmOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian S60 and BlackBerry platforms. And that highlights the very reason I think Amazon must make this happen: who’s missing from the list I just mentioned?

Yup, it’s Apple (s aapl) and the iPhone. At some point, I believe that Apple will seriously get into the eBook market. I could be wrong of course, but do you think Amazon will take the chance of letting Apple beat them in their own backyard?

Not gonna happen. They’ll want to gain revenues out of the hundreds of millions of non-Apple handsets if they can and this is a sure way to do it. We might not hear about Kindle content on handsets next week, but it’s a safe bet we’ll hear about it this year. I’ll take May in the betting pool; that’s the month before I expect we hear from Apple on the next-generation iPhone, services and features.


Kevin C. Tofel

That could be Mike. My thought process: Amazon owns MobiPocket and uses a slightly different version of Mobi’s DRM for the Kindle. MobiPocket has said some months ago that they’re working on iPhone client as well. We’ll see!


The Stanza ebook reader for the iPhone already handles DRM-free Mobipocket files… I would think that would be the first option for Amazon’s extension to the iPhone, if the content protection can be set up.



JK: I think you’re wrong about Apple getting in to the ebook market. I just don’t see that being a priority for them. Certainly their hardware isn’t really designed for it, though it’s certainly capable of it. They’re going to be happy with video and audio content, and they’ll leave the ebook for Amazon.

So I don’t see any impediment to Amazon releasing Kindle software for the iPhone/iPod Touch, and I fully expect that they will announce it, if not release it, tomorrow. I think it will be branded as Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for Blackberry or something like that, and you won’t see mention of mobipocket anywhere. Also, I expect that they will announce it as a supplemental program that primarily benefits Kindle owners, touting the software as a way to have your Kindle content with you everywhere, so you can catch up on that novel you downloaded, even if you don’t have your Kindle Reader with you. I’m guessing that the software will be linked to the Kindle account so content can be shared.


I think there are three issues holding back Amazon:
1) Licensing: How will they make sure that each book is paid for and yet still let people to share books? Printed books have been shared from the beginning of time, how will this be done digitally?
2) Delivery: My guess is half of the Kindle cost is connectivity. Mobile phones have already solved this but somehow this is still a hurdle for Amazon
3) Publishing rights? I don’t know if Amazon has developed the publishing partnerships it needs to publish these books on different formats or devices. Logistically this is very easy but it might be that publishers aren’t confident that they will get the revenue they need. Look how long it took to get DRM free music on iTunes and then at a 30% premium? I don’t think the average digital consumer is willing to pay 30% more to get a digital book.

e-Books need to hit a price point of 60-70% of a printed book to really sell. We all know that the marginal cost of a digital book is negligible-just like software so pricing is more about how much money a publisher can make than covering costs.

Digital printing is the way of the future, we are just in that messy period of figuring out how it is going to work for everyone and not just special interest groups (read geeks). Either someone is going to find a way to make it work on mobile phones, or a new device. The Kindle has done a marvelous job of being a new device but it seems like multiple times more people have iPhones and other mobile devices. This is the larger pool and Amazon must find a way to reach this market.

Figure it out Amazon and you will have millions of loyal customers.


I agree completely that Amazon needs to open this up to multiple formats to stay ahead of Apple. eReader (now owned by Mobipocket)supports the iPhone and many other formats. Amazon bought Audible last year to get into the audio platform and I have been expecting them to buy Mobipocket but haven’t heard anything. If they do this they can be way ahead in e-books but they haven’t so far. The Mobipocket method of sharing books (by using your cc as the activation code)works well but it is not consistent with Amazon’s method of each person having their own account.


Bringing Kindle content to mobipocket would be great. I could have Amazon titles on my BeBook.

Sean Brady

@Rick I have been told that if you have multiple Kindles purchased on the same Amazon account they can share content. I only have one so I have never tried it.

I like the idea of ebooks on my BB Storm, but only as a reference tool. I almost always have my Kindle with me, and the reading experience on an e-ink device is just a ton better than on a phone or PC IMHO. I don’t think I would read a book on a phone. Now giving me access to the same store on my phone that I get to on my Kindle would be awesome. I often mark books to buy using the Kindle store, and I cant get to that store via my PC. Pretty sure the 3G on my Storm will be faster than the Sprint network on the Kindle, and I have the Storm with me always.

Rick Lobrecht

This article is a good read on eBooks. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2009/02/the-once-and-future-e-book.ars#

I agree with that author on why eBooks are useful (carry lots of them, on a device I always have with me, and read in the dark.)

I’d love to have an updated Kindle. The better screen looks really attractive. But I would never have it with me, unless I really intended to read. I currently read in 1 or 2 minute snippets while waiting for things.

Does anyone know how the Kindle DRM works? If you own two Kindles and you buy a title, can you read it on both? (Of course I’m thinking Kindle and phone really.)

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