What do you call a Kindle app for the iPhone? A good start. The company is listening to its users, if not actually doing much to build the community it could have around the Kindle.
Amazon unleashed the iPhone application this week with relatively little fanfare, but it's a major step for the company's dominance of the eBook market. Having access to the Kindle's extensive line of books without having to have the hardware, or just in conjunction with the hardware, makes Amazon that much more attractive as the supplier of eBooks vs. Sony and other eBook vendors.
As Matthew Miller points out over on his blog, it's a slick experience, too. It's just a shame that the Kindle community has to wait for Amazon to get around to innovating rather than having the tools to work around the Kindle platform itself.
Obviously, the company sees the virtue in decoupling Kindle reading materials from the actual Kindle hardware. What's left?
- Tools to publish/convert in Kindle formats. The Kindle makes an excellent reading device for books, magazines, newspapers, etc. It'd also make a much better device for reading those corporate reports on long flights, if only users had an easy way of converting and saving docs in Kindle formats. (Note, Amazon's system of converting docs via email leaves a lot to be desired.)
- Support for platforms outside the iPhone. Lots of mobile devices have suitable screens for reading eBooks, it'd be nice to see this opened up beyond the iPhone market. I'm sure Zune users (both of them) would like to be able to read an eBook on their devices as well.
- Additional apps for the Kindle. I still hold that the Kindle can do more than just serve as an eBook reader. Amazon's release of a Kindle reader for the iPhone shows that the company sees demand for multi-function devices rather than single use devices. Why let Apple hog all the sales?
- Color support. The iPhone (and other devices) can handle way better graphics than the Kindle hardware. It'd be nice to have the option to buy material that utilizes color graphics via the Kindle. (I suspect Amazon would have a major winner if it had color support and teamed up with Marvel and DC to publish comics on the Kindle.)
There's a lot Amazon could do with this platform, but it seems to move at glacial speed by itself. An open platform would boost Amazon's success here even more.