On October 22nd, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) announced that they will be adding a bit of expanded functionality to their Kindle reading platform. Much as book are currently able to be shared between devices on the same account, regardless of hardware choice, so shall magazine and newspapers be, at least in theory! So subscribers will simply have access to their periodicals wherever they may be, if all goes well. There are two sides to this situation, however.
While it greatly expands availability, and therefore saleability, for publications currently lacking an online distribution system, it can mean direct competition for others. Take the New York Times(NYSE:NYT) for example. They’ve spent a lot of time and man-hours getting their iPad application off the ground, from what I’ve heard. It seems pretty unlikely that they will be wanting to negate all that effort by simply letting Amazon expand subscriptions purchased for Kindles to iPad owners. Still, Amazon says they will allow publishers to opt-out, so perhaps that will negate the issue. It is certainly an option that many organizations will have to weigh carefully, since it will almost certainly have bearing on the decision of future customers to purchase Kindle-based subscriptions in hopes of staying up to date on a daily basis. Regardless of publisher dilemmas, this does clear up an annoying issue with the current subscription setup. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for your average commuter to be denied the ability to check their morning paper just because today they’re using their Kindle app instead of the device itself.
The first devices to see this new feature will be those running Kindle-for-iOS, but Android users should see it soon as well. The stated vision of the company, “Buy Once, Read Everywhere”, would be great for readers and we can only hope that it comes soon and works well. It would be nice to see availability in spite of potential complications with independently developed applications, but only time will tell.