Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amazon Debuts Kindle for Web, While Google Brings Knife to a Gunfight

Signaling renewed competition in the e-reading space, Amazon today debuted a web-based extension to their existing Kindle platform with a new product called Kindle for the Web, which is nearly identical to a product Google announced yesterday dubbed Google eBooks, which is also a cloud-based ebookstore and reading webapp that lives within the browser.

Unlike Google’s dearth of reading devices, Amazon’s new service snaps into the same “buy once, read everywhere” experience that the existing line-up has successfully offered: last-page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights synced and automatically archived across all Kindle hardware and applications for third-party platforms such as iOS, Android, Blackberry and the like.

Kindle for the Web affords a few extra features too: since whole books can now be read in an embeddable reader applet, independent third-party publishers and authors can now preview and sell content directly on their own sites, earning them referral fees through Amazon’s Associates Program.

These fees are in fact the only thing that really separate Kindle for the Web from Google eBooks, which has not yet developed a third-party seller model in their product.

It’s actually hard to see why Google would enter the e-reading market without disruptive new distribution and revenue models, facing up against entrenched competition from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which can clearly afford to experiment. ...