So much for trashing the Kindle. Today Samsung is announcing a new app, Kindle for Samsung, created in partnership with Amazon, that will let Galaxy device users using Android 4.0 and up, starting with the Galaxy S5, to buy and read content from Amazon’s catalog of magazines, newspapers and books. Screenshots for the app, which is going live across 90 countries this month, are below.
Amazon and Samsung are also launching a free book service, Samsung Book Deals, for users of the app. This is a referral program, where those who get recommended the service, and then use it, get up to 12 free books each year from a selection provided by Amazon.
The move is interesting for a few reasons. The first is that it’s a sign of how, although Samsung is quite happy to throw shade on Amazon from the point of view of hardware competition, at the end of the day it continues to look for interesting content that will keep people coming back to its own platform. And if that means partnering with a rival that has become synonymous with e-reading, so be it.
Second, considering that tablets tend to be the device of choice for reading (for those who don’t use e-readers, that is), this is also an important competitive move for Samsung to have a key e-book feature on its tablet devices.
Samsung in 2013 accounted for about 19% of all tablet sales, according to Gartner. That still some way behind Apple and the iPad (which took 36% of all sales) but Samsung is gaining ground fast, picking up several percentage points while Apple lost nearly 20. Android is now the world’s biggest tablet platform finally overtaking iOS.
Third, judging by Samsung’s bigger plans with Tizen smartphones, it’s clear that the company continues to look for a way of carving out a position for itself to further differentiate among the sea of Android players and the huge field of OEMs in general. A custom-built Kindle app provides some degree of that on the app front.
For Amazon, the deal is a no-brainer: the company’s whole business model is predicated on scale, so of course adding in another potential swathe of consumers, on the world’s currently most popular smartphone brand, is a clear path to driving more overall adoption within the Amazon ecosystem.
What’s not clear is what the business relationship will be between Amazon and Samsung. Traditionally, Amazon would “own” their Kindle customers, but the use of the word “partnership” in the company’s joing press release makes me think that there will be more sharing (of revenues? customer data?) than that between other developers and OEMs.
As with other Kindle apps, Kindle for Samsung will feature Whispersync for synchronizing where you are reading across all your devices; “Time to Read” for estimating reading times; and cloud-based backups of your library.
“We’re delighted to be able to deepen our long-standing relationship with Amazon and offer Kindle for Samsung as the perfect app for reading on a smart device. With this service we demonstrate our commitment to creating and broadening key content partnerships that deliver rich and personalised experiences for our customers,” said Lee Epting, VP, Samsung’s Media Solution Center Europe, in a statement.
“We’re thrilled that Samsung has chosen Kindle as their eBook provider,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, EU Kindle, in a statement. “With Kindle for Samsung, people around the world will have instant access to the best digital bookstore and reading experience, including more than half a million titles that are only available from the Kindle Store, and innovative features like Whispersync, Time to Read and much more.”