It’s been teased for a fairly long time now, but Amazon (s amzn) finally released its Kindle companion software for Mac, as of yesterday. To date, the Kindle application has only been available for Windows machines, which has made it slightly harder for Mac users to organize and manage their Kindle collection.
Kindle for Mac also offers e-reader features, so you can access all of your e-book purchases, download and read them right on your computer. It’ll also sync the furthest location read with all Kindle devices registered to your account if you want, so that you can continue reading on your Kindle, iPhone or Mac without missing a beat.
Not yet present in the current version of the software is the ability to make and edit notes, highlight portions of the text and conduct full-text searches, but these are all planned for a later update, according to Amazon. Future versions will also let you click on images to zoom in to see a larger version, and to rotate it if you wish. One feature that is present is the conveniently-placed “Buy a Kindle” link found in the Help menu. Subtle, Amazon.
The application also lets you manage your Kindle and make purchases in the Kindle store, although for both of these functions it actually just kicks you over to Amazon’s web site in your default browser. In fact, the Mac software really isn’t much more than a bare-bones e-reading application. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I’m wondering why exactly it took this long to get the software out there.
The answer is probably that Amazon didn’t really have a good enough reason to until the iPad came along. Up until that point, drawing a link between a free iPhone app and a free Mac app to display content that Amazon was originally taking a loss on selling didn’t make much sense. The Kindle itself — the hardware — was the key to success, and it’s pretty easy to chuck that altogether when you’ve got the other two.
Amazon must’ve seen the writing on the wall following the iPad announcement, and realized that joining the company would be considerably more productive than attempting to beat it at this point, and so decided to cover all Mac-based platforms instead of just partially serving Apple (s aapl) customers. Will it pay off in the long run? We’ll have to wait and see how well Apple tolerates iBookstore competitors when the iPad hits store shelves early next month.
Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d): Evolution of the e-Book Market