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Amazon Sticks It to Google With Kindle for the Web

Amazon Sticks It to Google With Kindle for the Web

It appears the days of proprietary e-book systems are over, and Amazon is jumping on the latest wave with Kindle for the Web. "The fact that one can search for a book on the Web and be able to download it onto any device -- a laptop or desktop -- and read it right away is fantastic. People will want that," said Lawrence Knorr, a professor at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

By Erika Morphy
12/08/10 12:07 PM PT

At Google's Chrome OS event and demo on Tuesday, one of the participants was Amazon. The company chose this venue -- a competitor's product strategy Visit the VMware Tech Center launch -- to introduce an upgrade to its own go-to-market approach: the Kindle Web app. Now users can buy and read entire books from their browser without having to download special software. Also, publishers, authors and bloggers will be able to sell Kindle books through their own sites.

Amazon's Kindle for the Web expands on functionality unveiled earlier this year that allowed users to read only a certain portion of an e-book online.

Encroaching Competition

Google, of course, is now a competitor of Amazon with its own recently unveiled ebookstore. However, it makes perfect sense that Amazon would debut its upgraded app at a Google event.

Both companies recognize that the next generation of e-book consumption will take place in an open market, James Brehm, senior consultant with Frost & Sullivan, told the E-Commerce Times.

At bottom, Amazon's business model is to sell books, Brehm said -- as well as the myriad of other products it sells, of course.

If consumers are calling for an open model through which to purchase books, then that is the direction these companies will go, said Brehm.

Amazon did not return the E-Commerce Times' call requesting comment by press time.

Competing Interests

Despite Amazon's and Google's paeans to openness on the Web, the fact remains these companies are competitors, Laura DiDio, principal of ITIC, told the E-Commerce Times.

"All of these giant tech behemoths now cannot turn around without bumping into their rivals," she told the E-Commerce Times. "Google is not only competing with Amazon but also Microsoft and Apple. Amazon is going up against Target and o ther retailers."

With all of this intensified competition, she said, companies can't afford not to upgrade and advance their products.

"They feel an obligation to stay in the news and in consumers' eyes by keeping up with the Jones," DiDio remarked.

In this case, that means everything must be Web-based, she said. "That is the natural step for all content now, and even entrenched companies like Amazon have to pay attention. Nobody can afford not to respond."

Who's Next?

Indeed, it is almost a sure thing that other e-book providers are going to follow suit, said Lawrence Knorr, a professor at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and owner of Sunbury Press, a small publisher that is transitioning from traditional print-to-inventory to print-on-demand and e-book formats.

"Companies like Barnes & Noble -- they are going to have to open up. Consumers are going to demand it," Knorr told the E-Commerce Times.

"The fact that one can search for a book on the Web and be able to download it onto any device -- a laptop or desktop -- and read it right away is fantastic. People will want that."

The early days of the e-book era -- when companies like Amazon and B&N tried to grab marketshare via proprietary devices and formats -- are over, he concluded, and the next stage has begun.


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