Amazon.com is reportedly planning a Kindle for Web application, which would allow users to purchase e-books via a Website and then read those titles in their browser.
An Amazon spokesperson reportedly described the application to Computerworld Dec. 6. At the moment, users can download Kindle software for the iPhone, Windows PC, Mac, BlackBerry, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7 devices.
At least in theory, a Kindle for Web application would counterprogram Google's new foray into the e-books arena. It would also give Amazon yet another competitive differentiator in its longer-running battle against other e-book retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Apple.
Google eBooks launched Dec. 6, as the search-engine giant evidently moves to bite off its own piece of a market already dominated by big-name brands such as Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. Google will offer up 3 million eBooks from the eBookstore, with support for both ePub and PDF formats, and include software for reading titles on Google Android and Apple iOS devices. Google eBooks without digital rights management will be available for Kindle.
Google has also begun a retailer and affiliate program, which makes titles available online via independent bookstores such as Powell's in Portland, Ore. Roughly 200 independent bookstores will participate in this program, with revenue split between reseller, publisher and Google.
Amazon and Google face a substantial threat from the Apple iPad, according to a recent survey by ChangeWave Research. Based on a survey of 2,800 consumers, the firm concluded that the iPad's share of the e-reader market had expanded from 16 percent to 32 percent between August and November, even as the Kindle's dipped from 62 percent to 47 percent.
The Kindle maintained a substantial lead in that survey over the Sony Reader, with 5 percent of the market, and Barnes & Noble's Nook franchise at 4 percent.
Of current iPad and Kindle owners, some 75 percent reported being "very satisfied" with the iPad, versus 54 percent of Kindle owners. In the context of content, iPad owners also tended to consume more newspapers, magazines and blogs on their device than Kindle owners.
To succeed in the e-books space, Google would have to squeeze between these two competitors. Amazon currently offers 750,000-plus titles for purchase on Kindle, versus Apple's 60,000 via its iBookstore. Google may be counting on its open platform holding more appeal to a certain subset of users.