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Amazon to launch commerce-enabled Kindle app for HP’s webOS TouchPadBy
Amazon.com Inc. will launch a free commerce-enabled Kindle application for webOS that is tailored for the new Hewlett-Packard TouchPad tablet.
Kindle for webOS will let customers buy ebooks that can be read across multiple devices – on Kindle, Kindle 3G, Kindle DX, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Android-based devices and, this summer, the HP TouchPad.
“Ebooks are not necessarily a purchase motivator, but it is one of the leading tasks that we see consumers engaging in on smartphones and tablets,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at the NPD Group, Port Washington, NY.
“For Amazon, it is an opportunity to sell more ebooks,” he said. “Having the TouchPad as a supported device provides more options for Amazon consumers to access content.
“Consumers should be able to buy ebooks via the Kindle TouchPad app, whereas on the iPad, there is some controversy as to whether ebooks from various ereader apps need to be purchased through Apple’s iTunes.”
Amazon.com’s Kindle, Kindle 3G and Kindle DX are portable ebook readers that wirelessly download books, magazines, newspapers, blogs and personal documents to an electronic ink display.
Kindle in-app commerce
Kindle for webOS was demonstrated for the first time Feb. 9 at HP’s press conference announcing the new HP TouchPad tablet and two webOS-based smartphones, the Veer and the Pre 3.
Amazon’s Whispersync technology syncs Kindle for webOS users’ place across devices, so they can pick up where they left off.
With Kindle devices and applications, customers can choose from 810,000-plus books in the U.S. Kindle Store, including New Releases and 103 of 110 New York Times Bestsellers.
More than 670,000 of the books in the Kindle Store are $9.99 or less, including 73 New York Times Bestsellers.
With Kindle Worry-Free Archive, books consumers purchase from the Kindle Store are automatically backed up online in their Kindle library on Amazon, where they can be re-downloaded wirelessly for free.
HP’s prospects for success
HP’s Veer and Pre 3 will go head to head with Apple’s iPhone, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.
The TouchPad will compete with the BlackBerry PlayBook and the various Android-based tablets, all of which will attempt to chip away at the iPad’s market-share lead.
“Smartphones and tablets are two different markets of course that have different distribution,” Mr. Rubin said. “A lot of the competitive smartphone market depends on carrier distribution, which is more mature than the tablet market.
“A lot will depend on which carriers pick up these devices and how they are promoted,” he said. “At least up to this point, webOS-based devices [such as the Palm Pre] have struggled against competitors in the smartphone space, so the Veer and Pre 3 may not change the game in the smartphone market.”
There may be more opportunity for HP to crack the tablet market, however.
The TouchPad will be the same size and have the same screen resolution as the iPad.
“In the tablet market, even though there is a lot of competition coming, the only one with significant market share today is Apple’s iPad,” Mr. Rubin said. “It seems to be a category that favors retail distribution, where HP is very strong.
“The prospects for the TouchPad seem stronger than the handsets right now,” he said. “HP is putting webOS on printers and PCs, two very high-volume categories for them, to expand the addressable market for webOS devices.
“Developer support is key—it is tied to market share, and one reason why HP has had difficulty in attracting developers to the webOS platform is because the numbers have not been there.”
Amazon.com spreads its reach
Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Kinley Campbell, spokeswoman for Amazon.com, Seattle. Here is what she had to say:
What is Amazon’s strategy behind the launch of the app for HP’s TouchPad?
Our philosophy with the Kindle Store is “Buy Once, Read Everywhere.”
We want people to be able to read their books anywhere they want to read them – that’s their Kindle, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android-based device, Windows Phone 7 and more devices they may own in the future.
With Kindle and Kindle apps, you never have to worry about what you’ll do with your library of books if you switch devices or platforms.
What opportunities do tablets such as the TouchPad offer Amazon?
We love tablet computers – they’re great for our retail business – people can sit on their couch and shop on Amazon.com.
We’re seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet.
Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies and Web-browsing, and their Kindles for reading sessions.
They report preferring Kindle for reading because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life and has the advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye-strain, doesn’t interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration especially for vacation reading.
Kindle’s $139 price point is a key factor – it’s low enough that people don’t have to choose.
How will Amazon get the word out about the TouchPad app?
I’m not going to speculate on what we’ll do once the app is available, but we’re very excited to be working with HP and to offer our customers yet another free “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” Kindle app.
Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief, Mobile Commerce Daily
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