Consistent With Their "Web 2.0" Philisopical History, Amazon Opens Up Kindle To iPhone; More To Follow

By M. David Peterson
March 3, 2009

via a recently published Wall Street Journal article, we learn: Inc. plans to release a program Wednesday for reading electronic books on Apple Inc.'s iPhone, extending Amazon's sales of digital books to devices beyond its Kindle e-book reader.

Amazon's software application, which can be downloaded free of charge, allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to read books or periodicals purchased on the Web or through their dedicated Kindle device, usually for $9.99. Using a service that Amazon calls whispersync, the program keeps track of a readers' latest page in any given book across both a Kindle and iPhone.

This is a bold move by Amazon, but not a move that should come as any big surprise given their history of making seemingly canabilizing moves in favor of the bigger picture. As Jeff Bezos points out in answer to a question posed in the November 13th, 2006 BusinessWeek article entitled "Amazon Wants To Run Your Business":

BW: By providing services such as EC2, aren't you enabling many more potential competitors by giving them these services to get a company up and running much faster?

I think you're right. But my point of view is if something is a good idea, it's going to happen.

While Bezos phrases things a bit different, the underlying idea is nearly synonymous to that of Tim O'Reilly's "Web 2.0" philosophy, indirectly summarized by Eric Schmidt as "Don't fight the Internet!". As Bezos continues:

And so, you can fight it, or you can do it.

Understanding the way the Internet works is of utmost important in maintaining a long term presence in the Web 2.0 economy. While seemingly cannibalizing ones own business model may seem absolutely insane, these ideas are really nothing new. To better understand, one needs to look no further than Clayton M. Christensen's seminal title "The Innovators Dilemma" in which he describes the process of "Disruptive Technologies". From its description on Wikipedia:

A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is a term describing a technological innovation, product, or service that uses a "disruptive" strategy, rather than an "evolutionary" or "sustaining" strategy, to overturn the existing dominant technologies or status quo products in a market. Disruptive innovations can be broadly classified into low-end and new-market disruptive innovations. A new-market disruptive innovation is often aimed at non-consumption, whereas a lower-end disruptive innovation is aimed at mainstream customers who were ignored by established companies.

To understand the philosophy of Amazon then is to understand that by embracing disruptive technologies before they become disruptive enables them to convert what would have inevitably become their competition into customers. In doing so:

We're just exposing the guts of Amazon. And people are going to take those things and they're going to do stuff that surprises us with those pieces that get pulled out and exposed. We're excited about that, and we think we can make money doing that.

Expect this to be the first of /many/ announcements related to Kindle support on mobile devices, and as such: Hold on tight, folks! Something tells me the shockwave from this particular industry shaking move will be the source of something more inline with a tsunami than a tidal wave.

One last thought: With Kindle now well on its way to becoming a direct competitor of both PDF and XPS, and therefore Adobe and Microsoft, how much longer before we see Amazon fast tracking the Kindle format through ISO?

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