2009年3月5日 星期四

亞馬遜電子書 iPhone看得到Amazon to Sell E-Books for Apple Devices

Amazon to Sell E-Books for Apple Devices

Published: March 4, 2009

Shaking up the nascent market for electronic books for the second time in two months, Amazon.com will begin selling e-books for reading on Apple’s popular iPhone and iPod Touch.

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Amazon says its Kindle 2, above, and devices like Apple’s iPhone and iPod are complementary.

Starting Wednesday, owners of these Apple devices can download a free application, Kindle for iPhone and iPod Touch, from Apple’s App Store. The software will give them full access to the 240,000 e-books for sale on Amazon.com, which include a majority of best sellers.

The move comes a week after Amazon started shipping the updated version of its Kindle reading device. It signals that the company may be more interested in becoming the pre-eminent retailer of e-books than in being the top manufacturer of reading devices.

But Amazon said that it sees its Kindle reader and devices like the iPhone as complementary, and that people will use their mobile phones to read books only for short periods, such as while waiting in grocery store lines.

“We think the iPhone can be a great companion device for customers who are caught without their Kindle,” said Ian Freed, Amazon’s vice president in charge of the Kindle.

Mr. Freed said people would still turn to stand-alone reading devices like the $359 Kindle when they want to read digital books for hours at a time. He also said that the experience of using the new iPhone application might persuade people to buy a Kindle, which has much longer battery life than the iPhone and a screen better suited for reading.

Amazon also said its recently unveiled Whispersync function would work for people who own a Kindle and one of the Apple devices. They can access their library of previously purchased e-books on all of their devices at no additional cost. Amazon will also create automatic bookmarks, so that a user can stop reading a book on one device and pick it up on another device at the same spot in the text.

The move by Amazon tangles competitive dynamics in the growing e-book industry. Many analysts thought pocket-size versatile smartphones could eventually eat into the small but growing market for stand-alone book readers that do little else and still do not have color screens or full-featured Web browsers. With the announcement, Amazon appears to be hedging its bets.

Analysts had also thought Amazon was closely following the template Apple had created with the iPod and trying to dominate the market with a ubiquitous, must-have consumer electronics device. Now it appears Amazon is more interested in selling as many e-books as possible on its site, and collecting the royalties, while strengthening its ties with customers, many of whom will buy other products from Amazon if they start buying e-books.

“A couple months ago a lot of people thought Amazon was slavishly imitating the Apple model,” said Bill Rosenblatt, president of the consulting business GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies. “It turns out they have a different model than Apple. They are smarter than everyone thought.”

The developments also suggest that, true to his word, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, has little interest in the market for digital books. Mr. Jobs once dismissed the Kindle by saying “the whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Unlike other forms of media like music and video, which Apple sells itself to iPhone owners through its iTunes store, Apple appears to be ceding the e-books market to Amazon and other companies that offer e-book applications.

“Apple is consciously skipping the e-book market,” said Evan R. Schnittman, vice president for business development and rights at Oxford University Press. “I think it’s pretty significant.”

亞馬遜公司4日推出一項免費應用軟體,可讓蘋果iPhone與iPod Touch用戶下載電子書內容。這是亞馬遜首度對手機用戶開放電子書庫,可望拓展客源。

亞馬遜表示,即日起,iPhone和iPod Touch用戶可從蘋果網路商店APP Store下載電子閱讀器軟體,安裝後就能閱讀Kindle電子書庫超過24萬本書的內容。其中,軟體提供的「悄聲同步」(Whispersync)功能 可記錄閱讀進度,下次使用者不論用何種裝置,都能從中斷處繼續閱讀。


亞馬遜Kindle副總裁佛里德(Ian Freed)說:「iPhone和iPod touch使用的Kindle軟體,是讓顧客隨時隨地追蹤新出版作品的好辦法。」

市面上許多電子書閱讀器也和iPhone結合,但亞馬遜率先提供龐大商品項目給這款最熱門的智慧手機。美中不足的是,iPhone和iPod Touch還無法閱讀亞馬遜網站上的雜誌和報紙,也缺乏二代Kindle的朗讀功能。

Kindle 2強調速度更快、體積更小,配備16灰階顯示器並內建2G記憶體,可下載1,500本書,每台售價359美元。相形之下,第一代Kindle只配備4灰階顯示器,可容納200本書。


創意策略公司(Creative Strategies)科技分析師巴傑林表示,亞馬遜把Kindle功能應用到蘋果的產品上,主要是希望電子書和閱讀器的銷售同步增加,但他認為此舉較有 助刺激電子書買氣。他說:「如果只把目標侷限在Kindle用戶,業績就不可能扶搖直上。新功能對電子書讀者群將有重大影響。」