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March 4, 2009 at 10:12 AM

Bezos: iPhone App just the start for Kindle software

The Kindle iPhone application that released last night is just the start.

Amazon plans to extend its digital book software — especially the Kindle’s “Whispersync” technology — to all sorts of phones and computers, according to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.

It’s more evidence that the Kindle was built not just for reading, but for buying books. It’s part of a broader effort to extend Amazon’s core franchise to mobile devices.

The iPhone application makes more sense when you think of it as an extension of the Kindle bookselling platform, as well as a bargain way for iPhone owners to get a barebones version of Amazon’s reading device.


But it’s still a neat application and the timing — just a week after the Kindle 2 launch — shows how aggressively Amazon is pushing ahead.

Bezos previewed the strategy — and the vision for Kindle on the iPhone and other devices — in this interview at the Kindle 2 launch event last month. He said the plan was to get the Kindle digital bookstore on “just about every device.”

An excerpt:

Q: Will you take the software you have on a Kindle and put it onto something like a netbook?

A: That’s what Whispersync is about. We want to make Kindle a bookstore – the largest e-bookstore in the world, with 230,000 titles and growing. We want to make those titles also available on a bunch of different devices and then synchronize them with Kindle.

If you’re in line at the grocery store and you want to read a few pages on your phone, you can go right where you left off, and then when you get back home, maybe you pick up your Kindle and keep reading there.

The best analogy I can give you would be a digital camera on your cellphone. I love having a digital camera on my cellphone because I always have my cellphone with me. but occasionally I want a real camera. If I’m going to take pictures of my kids or whatever, I want a real camera. If I want to read for two hours, I want my Kindle. If I’m going to read for a few minutes, then a bunch of options open up.

Q: It seems like there’s a big opportunity for you if you don’t require people to buy a Kindle to use the software and services.

A: The two things are separate. The Kindle e-book library will be available if you do want a device that’s purpose-built for reading. You want to be able to synchronize it, that’s what Whispersync is about. It’s not a requirement.

Q: With the volume so big on netbooks and the devices having long battery life, I wonder if you’ll develop some sort of Kindle reading application for them?

A: The way you should think about it is we’re excited about making that library available on just about every device.

Q: So there will be a whole range of things that can use the Kindle software, and I’m guessing the Kindle will be the premium experience?

A: I think what you’re going to find is that anybody who reads is going to want a Kindle because it’s so much better for reading, but it’s not either/or: Either people are going to read on their cellphones, or they’re going to read on Kindle, and I don’t think that’s right. Just like I don’t have to decide, am I going to have a real camera or am I going to have a cellphone camera?

The fact is I want both. In fact I have three cameras – I have a cellphone camera, I have a compact camera that’s lightweight, if I go for a hike or something, And then I have an SLR camera that I mostly keep at home to take pictures of the kids because I want the highest quality I can get.

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