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Amazon's Kindle goes soft with iPhone app

LCD reading fun for the US

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Amazon has extended the Kindle brand into software with an iPhone application, also available for the iPod Touch, replicating the electronic-book experience but without the electronic ink.

The latest version of the Kindle was only launched last month, but Amazon recognises that not everyone is wowed by electronic ink and is now providing access to the Kindle store to US users of the iPhone or iPod Touch.

The "Kindle for iPhone" application is available through the US iTunes store, and provides access to the same catalogue of content available to Kindle users; notably excluding most of Oprah's recommendations and publications, but including such titles as Newsweek and the Financial Times. It isn't, however, available to anyone outside the USA.

The Kindle itself has two important features: the e-ink screen that is a joy to read, and the in-built CDMA telephone that delivers updates over Sprint's network using Qualcomm's infrastructure. That makes the Kindle impossible to sell, or use, outside the USA, and unless Amazon decides to put a GSM module in there it's going to remain on one side of the pond only.

It should be possible for Amazon to provide Kindle for iPhone around the world, but it seems likely the company's content-distribution agreements are for America only; there was no reason for international agreements when the hardware is limited to US soil, so the rest of us will likely have to wait a year or two before we can enjoy e-books on the iPhone or similar.

That is unless one downloads Stanza or eReader, neither of which will synchronise with one's Kindle, but both offer electronic-book delivery to the iPhone's screen. For a more integrated approach readers might like to consider Mobipocket, which supports both e-ink and LCD devices, but (inevitably) not the iPhone. ®

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