Kindle format ahead for cellphones—plus speculation on the Kindle as an ANTI-e-book device
February 6, 2009 | 8:24 am
One world, united under Mobipocket? Jeff’s Kindle-DRMed e-books to be readable on PCs, other machines? That’s what the TeleBlog reported last June, and now something similar might in fact be on the way for Mobi/Kindle.
Amazon says it’s “working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones,” reports the New York Times. “The company, which is expected to unveil a new version of the Kindle next week, did not say when Kindle titles would be available on mobile phones.” Maybe Kindle format for the iPhone, even? The same device for which Amazon may well have stopped Mobi‘s introduction of a compatible e-reader?
The Kindle format, as we know, is really just Mobipocket contaminated with a different flavor of DRM, and one wonders if Amazon in time will just phase out the original Mobi or play it down to make way for Kindlish eBabel—and try to position it as the universal format for e-books. Unless future Kindle 2s can read ePub natively, such speculation is perfectly natural.
Yet another fun question—well, maybe not so fun—-is whether, as as certain analysts on Wall Street think, the Kindle could actually be an anti-e-book device in some respects. Could Amazon drum up all this excitement, then keep the actual number of machines down to discourage e-book adoption and help preserve its success with paper books? A little like releasing sterile insects and hoping that the others will try to fertilize them in vain? My belief is that, no, the Kindle shortages are honest snafus rather than part of a Ludlum-like plot. If the company increases production with the Kindle 2 and dramatically lowers the expected $400 price of the new device, that would kill such speculation in a hurry.
Lindsay said backlogs were likely due to Amazon’s desire to control Kindle’s deployment, adding that Flextronics International Ltd, which many believe manufactures the Kindle for Amazon, could produce them faster and cheaper.
Keeping the Kindle scarce keeps the level of excitement high, and keeps people talking about Amazon, Lindsay added.
Amazon’s desire to preserve its success with physical book sales is why it will not sharply lower Kindle’s price, he said.
“We think Kindle will be an interesting product which the high-end consumers love, particularly investment bankers traveling in from Connecticut,” he said. “We don’t think it will be a large penetration object any time soon.”