Apple iPhone Could Become Next Hot E-Reader, Says Report

 
 
By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2009-11-02 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Apple's iPhone could become a major competitor to Amazon.com's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook e-readers, says one analytics company, if the number of e-book apps continues to grow. Despite their heavy focus on proprietary e-reader devices, both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble have developed iPhone apps for downloading and reading e-books. More competitors, such as Creative, are entering the e-reader market with their own product lines.

One of the most popular e-reader devices on the market could soon be the iPhone, according to a research note by analytics company Flurry, which observed a marked rise in the number of e-book-related applications available through Apple's App Store in September and October.

"In October, one out of every five new apps launching in the iPhone has been a book," Peter Farago, Flurry's vice president of marketing, wrote in a Nov. 1 post on Flurry's blog. "Publishers of all kinds, from small ones like Your Mobile Apps to megapublishers like SoftBank, are porting existing IP [intellectual property] into the App Store at record rates."

Furthermore, Farago concluded, "The sharp rise in eBook activity on the iPhone indicates that Apple is positioned [to] take market share from the Amazon Kindle as it did from the Nintendo DS." Further competition in the e-reader filed could come from the release of Apple's rumored tablet PC sometime in 2010.

Nintendo previously pointed to the iPhone and iPod Touch as factors in its most recent quarterly profit decline. A graph accompanying Flurry's blog post shows "Books" as 20 percent of "Total Released Apps" by the beginning of September, while the number of "Games" as a percentage of overall apps declined to nearly 12 percent.

However, Flurry did not break down how many e-books being read on the iPhone came from applications designed by Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Both companies' strategies involve porting e-books onto the iPhone to create a broader ecosystem beyond their proprietary e-reader devices. Those numbers may augment established e-booksellers' overall numbers rather than detracting from them, making Apple more of an enabler in the space than a competitor.

Whether or not the iPhone represents a threat to established brands in the e-book arena, it hasn't stopped smaller companies from trying their hands as well.

Creative reportedly announced during its annual general meeting in Singapore on Oct. 29 that it would roll out its own e-book reader, the MediaBook, but did not give a release date. According to sites such as Epizenter.net, which broke the news, the MediaBook will include a text-to-speech function along with a touch screen, and will offer a multimedia experience that includes video.

Increased competition in the e-reader market-more devices will roll out over the next two quarters-could help drive down prices and increase the overall rate of adoption. Following Barnes & Noble's announcement Oct. 20 about its Nook e-reader, Amazon.com lowered the price of the basic Kindle model to $259 to match its rival. By contrast, the relatively competitor-free Kindle DX, which includes a larger screen, continues to sell for $489.

In addition to an iPhone App, Amazon.com also introduced a "Kindle for PC" application during the Windows 7 launch on Oct. 22. Users can use the program to download e-books from the Kindle store, and-if their PCs are touch-screen-enabled-"flip" through pages by swiping the screen.

 
 
 
 
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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