Amazon.com announced the release of Kindle for Android June 28, porting its e-reader software to yet another family of devices. As competition in the e-reader space continues to heat up, Amazon.com finds itself pushing Kindle software and hardware updates in an effort to stay ahead of its ever-multiplying rivals.
The free Kindle application requires Android OS 1.6 or higher, allowing it to run on the newest Android phones such as the Motorola Droid X. Features include the ability to adjust text size, add bookmarks, view annotations created on other devices, read in landscape or portrait mode, and turn pages via tapping or flicking. Users can purchase ebooks directly through their Android devices, but periodicals such as newspapers and magazines are apparently not available.
Amazon.com originally promised a Kindle for Android release in May, but declined at the time to give a definitive time frame beyond "soon."
This is Amazon.com's second Kindle-related announcement this week; on June 27, the online retailer announced that its Kindle app for Apple mobile devices, including the iPad and iPhone, would now support embedded audio and video clips. With the feature in place, readers can now access multimedia through ebooks, such as by listening to a travel author's narration during a city tour or viewing a demonstration video inside a how-to text.
That application would conceivably allow Amazon.com to carve off a certain percentage of readers who opt to purchase an iPad rather than a Kindle e-reader. In many ways, the Kindle for Android application represents a similar strategy: By offering its own branded e-reader software for Android phones, Amazon.com seems to be making a preemptive move to counter Google's own upcoming e-bookstore.
Google apparently plans to start selling ebooks online through Google Editions, and let users access their libraries through a variety of devices. In addition, Google will reportedly allow publishers to set prices for their works, which would help Google create a competitive differentiator at a time when publishers and e-reader manufacturers find themselves in intense negotiations over the prices of e-texts.
Amazon.com has also focused on making its Kindle e-reader as consumer-friendly as possible, dropping the cost of the original device from $259 to $189 in response to Barnes & Noble dropping the price of its rival Nook. A Kindle software update, Version 2.5, allows users to share ebook passages via Facebook and Twitter, and to organize books or documents into specific categories.