Android mobile phone user-bookworms might be thrilled to hear that Amazon plans to release a Kindle e-reader app that they can download for free this summer. The only thing surprising about this announcement is that it took so long. What was Amazon waiting for? Here are three reasons why it should have fallen over itself to get this app out as quickly as possible.
Other Devices Have Had It for a While
For starters, other mobile devices have had the free Kindle app for quite some time. The iPhone got it way back in March 2009. Blackberries got free Kindle in February. While there are surely other devices that still lack the app, Android is one of the fastest growing platforms. If Amazon has determined that it's a smart strategy to provide its free Kindle reader for mobile devices (and it is, see reason #3 below), then it should roll this app out as quickly as possible to maximize market penetration.
Apple Is No Longer an Ally
Amazon should have also begun providing this app to other mobile devices with a renewed sense of urgency after learning that Apple was releasing its own tablet device. Yet, the iPhone remained the only mobile platform with the free Kindle app for nearly a year. The iPad is a direct competitor with the Kindle, even though Apple's device has superior capabilities. Few people who own an iPad will think they also need to purchase a Kindle. Moreover, most Kindle users will just rely on Apple's iBook store, rather than download the Kindle app for iPad -- what's the point?
Competition from Apple further accentuates the need for Amazon to push the app out to Android users. Think about the segment of the population who owns an Android phone. They're almost certainly not Apple fanboys/girls. If they were, they'd have an iPhone. So that means they're less inclined to buy an iPad than an iPhone owner. But they're also more technologically savvy than consumers who might opt for a simpler mobile phone with fewer capabilities. Amazon should get their Kindle app in these consumers' hands quickly, in an attempt to fend off any urges they may have to purchase an iPad instead of their device. Getting them hooked in Kindle first will lower the likelihood that they buy another e-reader or tablet instead.
There's Really No Downside
From a strategic point of view, there's really no reason why Amazon shouldn't provide the free Kindle app to as many mobile devices as possible. Won't that cut into Kindle sales? Probably not much, particularly not in regard to mobile phone app downloads. Anyone who really wants a richer e-reading experience won't settle for reading books on their little phone screen: they'll still spring for the full Kindle (or an iPad, tablet, or e-reader).
Meanwhile, those who can stomach reading books though the mobile app on their phone may choose to pay for books through Amazon's Kindle store. Some may even like the Kindle experience on their mobile phone so much that they decide to buy the device from Amazon after all. Surely, Amazon would want to capitalize on the book purchases and potential new sales thanks to providing the Kindle app for the growing population of Android users.
All of these reasons likely had something to do with Amazon finely wising up and pushing out the Kindle app to Android users. It's a smart move, long overdue.
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