Will Amazon's Kindle Android app hurt Kindle sales?

Amazon's pegging the app as a "companion" to its Kindle e-reader device

Friends, readers, Kindlemen: Allow me to pose a question. If you could get digital books on the smartphone you already carry, would you still buy a dedicated e-reader?

That's the question running through my mind after hearing that Amazon is developing a Kindle app for Android. The upcoming Kindle for Android app is set to hit smartphones this summer.

Amazon's pegging the app as a "companion" to its Kindle e-reader device -- buy a Kindle, the company says, then use your phone to extend its reach -- but I'm not so sure. For most casual users, is it really worth doubling up on devices?

Amazon's Kindle for Android: The Next Step

Now, Amazon's Kindle for Android app is far from the first e-reader-independent digital book application. There's Kindle for iPhone, of course, and then a program on some quietly launched device called the iPad (I haven't seen much coverage about this so-called "iPad" apparatus, but apparently it has a book-reading app of its own).

Amazon bringing its own software to Android, though, extends the reach of the mainstream book reading app even further. We all know about Android's growing grasp on the smartphone market. With the debut of the Kindle for Android app, even users who are set on sticking with the Kindle brand can get their e-book fixes without ever putting down their phones.

The actual Kindle device clearly has a decent amount to offer over a smartphone, most notably its eye-friendly E Ink display. And that's certainly worth something. But is it worth enough to convince you to plunk down a few hundreds bucks and then lug around an extra gadget everywhere you go?

Smartphone users these days are using data more than anything -- even voice calls -- and the convenience of condensation holds a powerful allure. After all, why annoy your friends and family with two devices when you can do it just as easily with one?

The Kindle Competition

The real threat to Amazon's e-reader sales may not be limited to its own Kindle apps; it may be the proliferation of book-reading apps in general. The Kindle brand will soon be competing not only with Apple's iBooks program but also with upcoming competitors like Google's cloud-based Editions bookstore.

I'm not suggesting current Kindle users are about to rush out and dump their devices for phone-based alternatives. But I am suggesting it's going to become increasingly difficult to persuade new users to double up on devices when they can get similar functionality on something already in their pockets.

The Kindle's strongest selling point over any smartphone or tablet is its E Ink screen. It's going to be interesting to see whether that point is strong enough to convince people to keep picking up e-readers in addition to their shiny new smartphones.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of eSarcasm. He's on Facebook: facebook.com/The.JR.Raphael

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesGoogle Androidamazon kindle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?