On Monday evening, Amazon announced that it would soon be offering a Kindle app for Android. This shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone considering the company already had software applications for the PC, Mac, Apple's iPhone and iPad, and BlackBerry phones. But it is worth delving into how the Kindle apps on these platforms differ, if at all, and which one has the best non-Kindle Kindle experience.
Amazon has not been resting on its laurels when it comes to the Kindle as a platform. While the Kindle hardware itself is only in its second generation, the strength of Amazon's strategy is in getting its digital bookstore into the hands of as many users and on as many platforms as possible. The end goal, you see, is that everyone buys their books from Amazon, even if they're not willing to invest in the Kindle hardware itself.
What becomes clear, though, the closer you look, is that the Kindle software Amazon provides for third-party hardware is universally less full-featured than what one can do on a Kindle proper. Is that by design? Certainly. We'll delve into that a little later on. In the meantime, let's start by taking a look at Amazon's various kindle apps by order of release.
Apple iPhone/iPod Touch (March 2009) The iPhone and iPod Touch Kindle application (download) was the first of Amazon's efforts to offer Kindle users a way to read their books on something other than a Kindle device. Amazon released it about a year and a half after the launch of the first Kindle hardware, and just a month after the launch of the second-generation device.
At launch it wasn't the first e-book-reading software for the iPhone platform, nor was it the best. Competitor Stanza, which Amazon ended up acquiring just a month later, offered far more features as a reader, though it was missing a first-party sales library and a way to sync reading sessions, and titles between devices.
For iPhone and Kindle users alike, the release of this software was a big deal, since they could get all their purchased books synced to their iPhone or iPod without having to pay extra. And not so secretly, Amazon was hoping the app would act something like a gateway drug to get users to buy the Kindle hardware in order to get a fuller reading experience.
One problem that was apparent at the release of the iPhone app, and that still exists today, is that you cannot actually purchase books from within the app. Instead, it kicks you out to Safari to browse and purchase. As we go on you'll find this is a bit of a pattern.
Windows (November 2009) Amazon released the PC version (download) of its Kindle reader software to users in early November 2009. Like the iPhone iteration, it did something the Kindle hardware itself could not do, which was display illustrations and digital publications in full color. It also had the rather obvious benefit of being able to use whatever peripherals were attached to your computer, like the mouse and keyboard to turn pages and adjust various options.… Read more