Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

That Was Fast: Kindle, Meet the iPhone

kindle-for-iphoneRemember last month, when Amazon said it planned to make its Kindle e-book titles available on other devices, but wouldn’t say what devices, or when?

Now we know. As of today, you can read Kindle titles on your Apple iPhone.

The free Kindle for iPhone App is just what it sounds like: It lets you read e-books that you’ve bought from Amazon. It won’t let you actually buy the titles from the online bookseller, though. To do that, you will need to use your Kindle or a Web browser.

But since you can use the iPhone’s built-in Safari browser to buy a Kindle book, that’s a fairly minor distinction. More important: Once you own a Kindle title, you can sync the titles between your iPhone (or iTouch) and your Kindle.

Wait a minute. Aren’t Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) competitors when it comes to music and video sales? And won’t they be competing for years to come for all sorts of digital content sales?

Sure. But Apple’s Steve Jobs has been publicly dismissive of the e-book market, and Amazon clearly sees the Kindle as a superior e-book reader to the iPhone–it imagines that the iPhone, or any other non-Kindle device, will be something you use to read an e-book when you can’t actually get your hands on a Kindle.

The bigger picture: Apple is still, for the moment, a hardware company that uses content to make its gadgets more attractive. And Amazon is basically the inverse: It wants to sell a lot of Kindles so it can sell a lot more Kindle e-books. So the detente here makes plenty of sense.

Which is probably what Walt Mossberg had in mind when he reviewed the Kindle 2.0 last week:

Amazon says it is working to make the Kindle e-book catalog available on other mobile devices, such as smart phones, that people already own. The online merchant, which is so secretive it makes Steve Jobs seem like Joe Biden, isn’t saying which devices will get the Kindle service or when. I would bet it will be sooner rather than later.”

In a new Mossblog, Walt shares his first impressions of Kindle on the iPhone.