We used to talk a lot about the "killer app" back in the early days of personal computing, late 1970s and early 1980s, when a killer application was something that would create a new market, or bring a technology into the mainstream. VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet, was a killer app. So was PageMaker, which, combined with the early Apple LaserWriter, started desktop publishing. Aldus Persuasion, precursor to PowerPoint and Keynote, was a killer app.
Yesterday Amazon.com and iTunes announced the killer app for ebooks. The combination of Kindle and iPhone is going to finally create the market that ebooks have deserved for years. It's an unbeatable offering.
I've read good things about the Sony eBook reader, and, at least until now, the Kindle was not quite good enough and about two times too expensive to create a real power market. But with the iPhone app, in combination, I predict it's going to.
I've been a happy Kindle owner since I got one, just a few weeks after it started shipping. I've said so in posts on this blog here, and then again here. Then yesterday Amazon announced the Kindle for iPhone, which is exactly what I'd been hoping for.
The experience was absolutely seamless. I went to the iTunes application store and downloaded the Kindle for iPhone application, then plugged in my iPhone and synchronized. Then I picked up the iPhone, started the application, typed in the obvious email address and password of my Kindle account, and within literally less than a minute I had 21 books available for downloading — the same 21 books that are waiting for me on my Kindle.
I downloaded five of those books. None of them took more than a few seconds. And they were all already mine, purchased earlier for my Kindle, waiting to be read. Some of them are partially read. I switch moods, go from something on business to a novel, sometimes short stories; I rarely get so involved in a book that I read it straight from cover to cover. That's more of a vacation behavior, and generally with fiction.
My Kindle (first generation, by the way … I've seen the version 2, and it looks nicer than mine, but not worth getting a new one when the one I have works fine) is great for vacations, reading at night, and traveling, in airports, airplanes, and hotels. But the iPhone is always with me, there for company if I get caught waiting for something. I really hate waiting. And it's also nice at night, and it's going to be nice in dark planes, because it has it's own light. The Kindle doesn't. The Kindle needs a bed light or one of those tiny book lights.
And what's best about the Kindle — the great access to a library, electronically, without having to break out time for buying or shipping, such as while you're at the airport — is also there for the iPhone application.
And, perhaps the best of all, I'm not fussing with two libraries, buying one book for the iPhone and another for the Kindle. Now I can buy everything for the Kindle, and have it in both places.
The synchronization looks just fine to me. I haven't had time to test this one, but they say that it will keep track of the last page read on either device, synchronizing between them.
How cool is that?