Amazon announced updates to its free Kindle for PC application, including the ability to edit notes and marks, change background color, and activate a full-screen reading mode. The announcement comes a day after the online retailer announced a version of its Kindle software for Google Android smartphones. Amazon's pace of announcements suggests an internalized need to stay competitive in the face of strong rivals such as Apple's iPad and the upcoming Google e-books storefront.
Amazon.com announced updates to its free Kindle for PC
application, a day after announcing that the e-reader software would become
available "soon" on Android-based devices. The rapid-fire pace of Kindle
announcements suggests that Amazon is looking to build out its e-reader
franchise at a time when it faces increased competition from a number of
rivals, including Apple's iPad.
The new features of Kindle for PC include the ability to
edit notes and marks, change background color, screen brightness control, and a
full-screen reading mode. Kindle for PC leverages Amazon's Whispersync
technology to synchronize notes, bookmarks and last-page-read between a user's
PC, smartphone and Kindle device.
A May 19 statement by Amazon hinted that the online
retailer's Kindle strategy could be shifting to an emphasis on software,
despite its Kindle devices remaining solid sellers for the company.
"We have been working hard to enhance our Kindle application
experiences and are thrilled to be adding new features to Kindle for PC," Jay
Marine, director of Amazon Kindle, wrote in that statement. "Kindle for PC lets
customers enjoy more than 540,000 books in the Kindle Store even if they don't
yet have a Kindle, and it's the perfect companion application for the millions
of Kindle and Kindle DX owners."
That follows a May 10 announcement that
free Kindle software would be available at an as-yet-unveiled date for Google
, including the Nexus One and Droid Incredible. Kindle
software is available for download to iPhones, iPads, BlackBerry smartphones,
Macs, and Windows PCs.
Amazon begins this latest round of announcements a few weeks
after news that Google will begin selling electronic books online as early as
June, through Google Editions.
Google Editions will apparently let users read books from a
variety of devices, as well as allow publishers to set prices for the works.
That could help Google create a competitive differentiator for its service at a
time when publishers and e-reader manufacturers find themselves in intense
negotiations over the price points for e-texts; for Amazon, the Google rollout
could lead to publishers bringing additional price pressures to bear on the
price of volumes sold through its e-books storefront.
In order to better face that competition-along with the
threat posed by Apple's iPad-both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, which markets
the Nook e-reader, have been adding additional software features to their
Kindle devices, expanding their functionality beyond traditional e-readers and
more into the territory of tablet PCs.
Amazon recently announced plans to release a software update
for its Kindle and Kindle DX devices, termed Version 2.5, that allows users to
share passages from e-books via Facebook and Twitter. In addition, Version 2.5
will include Collections, which organizes books or documents into specific
categories, and Popular Highlights, which displays passages in a reader's
current book that the Kindle community finds most interesting.
Barnes & Noble's recently unveiled software update for
the Nook includes Android-based games such as Sudoku and chess, as well as a
beta-version Web browser.
Although initially dismissed as a niche item by some
analysts, e-readers managed to become one of the hot sellers of the holiday
2009 shopping season, sparking the current rush by manufacturers to create
their own devices and software for displaying e-books.