Amazon delivers long-promised Kindle for Mac

Amazon just sent out a press release – Kindle for Mac has finally being released. It works for Mac OS X 10.5 and above and is a pretty good offering.

The details on Amazon Kindle for Mac

Here are the main details from the page –

  1. Best reading experience on the Mac (claimed). No Kindle required. 
  2. Past Kindle Book purchases can be accessed.
  3. If you have Kindle or Kindle for iPhone then bookmarks, notes, last page read are all synced.
  4. Kindle for Mac let you create bookmarks but not notes.
  5. Kindle Store newspapers, magazines, and blogs are not available.
  6. You can get free book samples and have the full range of 450,000 Kindle Store books available.  

Kindle for Mac will get some additional features in the near future – full text search and the ability to create and edit notes and highlights.

The Press Release adds some more information –

  • Access their library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon’s servers for free
  • Choose from 10 different font sizes and adjust words per line
  • View notes and highlights marked on Kindle, Kindle DX, and Kindle for iPhone
  • Read books in full color including children’s books, cookbooks, travel books and textbooks
  • The Amazon page also lists minimum system requirements –

    A Mac with a 500MHz Intel processor or faster. At least 512MB of RAM.

    Screen resolution of 800×600 or greater. 100MB of available disk space.

    Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

    Apple Blogs chime in on Kindle for Mac

    The Unofficial Apple Weblog share their thoughts – they feel it’s a no-frills release and have to agree with that. They also think it’s too bad PowerPC and Tiger users are left out and again they have a point.

    The news hasn’t really spread much and there is little analysis so far. It is a big deal though. Amazon have shown a willingness to support Mac – In addition to Kindle for Mac we have the Kindle Development Kit Beta working on the Mac. Amazon’s warm embrace of Mac is an important sign that Amazon want to build channels to the Kindle Store on all platforms.  

    Hopefully by tomorrow we have more opinions and insights.

    Kindle Vs Kindle for PC Vs Kindle for iPhone

    Kindle Vs Kindle for PC Vs Kindle for iPhone becomes a really interesting choice if you’re not sure you want to spend $259 on a dedicated eReader like Kindle 2.

    Here’s a video contrasting the three options –

    [wpvideo ThWzGCUD]

    Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each –

    Where does the Kindle shine?

    The Kindle does great at reading – exactly what you’d expect in an eReader. It also has a lot of benefits that the PC and iPhone offerings don’t i.e. Read To Me, Free Internet Access, etc.

    Kindle – Pros

    1. The Screen is great for reading and works in all lighting conditions.
    2. The Screen does not hurt your eyes.
    3. There are zero distractions.
    4. In-built dictionary and Search.
    5. Free Wikipedia access and Free Internet access for reference.
    6. Good sized screen i.e. 6″.

    Kindle – Cons

    1. You have to buy a Kindle for $259.
    2. No Color.
    3. No Touch.
    4. Not as compact as an iPhone.
    5. Screen isn’t as big as a laptop or PC.

    Please check my Kindle 2 Review if you’re thinking of getting a Kindle.

    Where does Kindle for PC shine?

    Kindle for PC lets you read all your Kindle Books (or any book in the Kindle Store) on any PC, anywhere in the world.

    Kindle for PC – Pros

    1. Very, very simple and easy to use.
    2. It’s free.
    3. Color (and on Windows 7 multi-touch).
    4. Lots of font sizes and lots of options for number of words per line.
    5. Works on almost every netbook and PC (Kindle for Mac is slated for release in a few months).
    6. Works on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
    7. Windows 7 optimized i.e. multi-touch etc.
    8. Screen is as big as your monitor.
    9. Lets you shop the Kindle Store and buy books. Though the ‘Shop in Kindle Store’ button doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    Kindle for PC – Cons

    1. Portability is limited to portability of your PC (none) or Laptop (good) or Netbook (much better than a PC).
    2. The Screen hurts your eyes – although if you disagree feel free to leave a comment.
    3. For the moment you can’t add notes and highlights.
    4. No Text To Speech.
    5. It’s more of an add-on than an independent offering.

    Check my detailed review of Kindle for PC if you want more details.

    Kindle for iPhone

    Kindle for iPhone recently added support for notes and highlights and made it a better product.

    Kindle for iPhone – Pros

    1. You have your phone with you nearly all the time.
    2. Fits in your pocket.
    3. Free.
    4. Color and Multi-touch.
    5. Bright LCD screen for reading without light at night.
    6. Sepia theme/color setting is great.
    7. 5 Font Sizes and 3 text color settings.

    Kindle for iPhone – Cons

    1. Doesn’t work well in bright light (sunshine).
    2. Screen is too small.  
    3. Screen hurts your eyes – again, leave your comments if you feel compelled to disagree.
    4. Lots of distractions.
    5. Battery life doesn’t compare with the Kindle.  

    Check my iPhone Reading App Reviews for more on iPhone reading.

    The big takeaway after contrasting the three is –

    Amazon is creating Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone as Starting Points (Add-On Services for Owners)

    Amazon is making it a point to make the Kindle the focal point and create Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone as starting points from which you can graduate to buying a Kindle.

    For Kindle owners, they become valuable add-ons. Think of the features –

    • The ability to sync your book location across the devices.
    • The ability to make notes and highlights on the Kindle and the iPhone (and soon on the PC).
    • Access notes and bookmarks across devices.
    • Buy books and access your books from all three.

    These features combine to create a very compelling overall offering.

    How do Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone rate as independent products?

    By themselves, both Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone are starting points – they are good enough for reading. As you begin to read more you’ll probably want a Kindle.

    There are going to be people who curse me for writing that a PC or an iPhone can not be as good for reading as a Kindle.

    However, ‘good enough’ is not the same as ‘great’.

    1. Reading on the Kindle is 8.5 stars (8.75 stars if you’re generous).
    2. Reading using Kindle for iPhone is 7 stars – Amazon intentionally leave a few features out to not make it too good. There are other apps that hit 7.5 despite the eye-strain and small screen size.
    3. Reading using Kindle for PC is perhaps 7 to 7.5 – haven’t done enough of it to say for sure. Again, you get the feeling Amazon left out some features to ensure it’s a stepping stone to the Kindle and not a substitute.

    If you love to read and can afford it, get a Kindle. If $259 is out of your reach, get Kindle for PC or Kindle for iPhone.

    Where does that leave us?

    1. Well, lots of people will download and read on one or both of Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone.
    2. Some of them, especially the ones who read a lot, will end up deciding to buy a Kindle.
    3. The books they’ve bought already and the use of a Kindle offering ties them to Amazon.
    4. Even people who don’t buy a Kindle will associate ‘Kindle’ with ebooks and reading.

    Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone are great for Amazon

    Amazon is already doing great with eReaders.  

    • If the skeptics are right and eReaders disappear then Amazon still owns the main reading channels and can sell ebooks.
    • If the skeptics are wrong, then Amazon owns the main channel i.e. eReaders and also owns the other important channels (PCs, netbooks, iPhones).

    Barnes and Noble have become a real threat to Amazon (something Sony never was). Kindle for PC is a necessary measure – expect a few more Kindle features and improvements before Christmas.

    As far as Kindle Vs Kindle for PC Vs Kindle for iPhone – all of them are simple to use and great products. The range of books in the Kindle Store and the low prices make each a compelling option.

    If you read a book a week (or more), the Kindle is worth the $259. If you read just one book a month, get Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone and enjoy the Kindle store.

    Is Amazon justified in not having a Kindle App Store?

    Amazon’s decision to not allow third party apps for the Kindle doesn’t seem quite as strange if you consider –

    1. The ongoing FCC investigation of Apple because they didn’t let the Google Voice App into the iPhone App Store.
    2. The ‘about to become a fiasco’ attempt by Rhapsody to add an iTunes competitor app.

    We suddenly have a situation where Apple is supposed to let competitors and would be usurpers into their walled garden. To profit off their hard work and exploit their users as they see fit.  

    Does Political Correctness dictate that Apple and Amazon turn their platforms into dumb pipes?

    Take a company that invests hundreds of millions of dollars and builds up its platform or service – Apple with its iPhone, Amazon with the Kindle.

    The message seems to be –

    Great for you that you built up the #1 spot.

    You have to be polite though, and buy the politically correct ‘be open’ nonsense your competitors are selling.

    So, guess you’ll just have to turn yourself into dumb pipes and let other companies make all the money.

    Oh, by the way, if you’re not stupid enough to buy this ‘altruism’ nonsense, we’ll just step in and make sure you have no choice.

    We seem to be forgetting that –

    1. Every company is in it to make money.
    2. Altruism and openness are just strategies.

    By buying this ‘be open’ message we’re negating the platform owners’ advantages while doing nothing to counter the advantages their opponents have.

    Who in their right mind would develop platforms and infrastructure if all platforms were dumbed down and socialized? 

    Can Amazon be blamed for not even considering a Kindle App Store?

    Here are the benefits for Amazon if it opens up a Kindle App Store –

    1. Someone codes a good Folders app. 
    2. We get a few crosswords apps. 
    3. Someone taps into the hidden GPS abilities and creates a local search and maps feature.

    The upside is completely drowned out by the huge risks –

    1. Google submits an app that takes over the browser and the kindle store and then pulls in the FCC if the app isn’t approved.
    2. starts running an app to buy things from them via the Kindle.
    3. WalMart builds an app that price-matches every Amazon purchase and offers Kindle owners free shipping if they choose WalMart.
    4. Gambling companies try to co-opt the Kindle into being an on the go casino.
    5. Virtual Goods companies start selling ‘virtual gifts’ and exploiting trusting Kindle owners.

    Basically, the message the FCC’s investigation is giving companies is –

    Its not ‘correct’ to be really, really good and beat your competition.

    Its so evil to make money off of your hard work and your #1 position.

    Why build a platform when you can just con your way into exploiting the platform.

    Opening up your platform even a little is inviting total disaster. Apple did and see what they’re left with –

    1. Google owns search. 
    2. Google owns Maps. 
    3. Google wants to own making phone calls.
    4. Rhapsody and Palm want to subvert iTunes.

    Amazon has to be looking at this and thanking their lucky stars they didn’t start opening up the Kindle.

    Why not let the Customers Decide?

    There’s no love lost between Apple and me. However, I’m firmly on Apple’s side here as this ‘government stepping in to right wrongs’ approach is too socialistic –  

    1. Customer have free choice – they won’t buy an iPhone or Kindle if they don’t want to. 
    2. Who decides what’s important to customers? Some company with ulterior motives? The Government?
    3. The US is a capitalist country, is it not?

    This FCC stepping in to ‘open up’ the Apple Store is rather reminiscent of ‘Financial Bailouts to prevent an Economic Disaster’ in that the people being saved are not you and me – it’s big, huge corporations that are already making billions.

    Surely, if the customers were so dismayed by Apple’s lack of openness and Kindle’s lack of support for ‘open’ formats, they would stop buying iPhones and Kindles – would they not?

    Perhaps we’re not dumb idiots who have to be ‘saved’ from ‘evil, closed systems’. Perhaps the reality is that we just don’t care about being fooled by an altruistic strategy into making some company undeservedly rich.