I confess: I am not an e-book reader. I use the old-fashioned library and a daily newspaper to consume printed media. Yet the recent introduction of Amazon’s Kindle 2 made me stop and think about whether I should consider changing my reading habits to incorporate the e-Book. The main reason? The feature Amazon calls Whispersync.
Whispersync (you can catch some more information here) is a service that uses the Kindle’s built in 3g network to deliver a “bookmarking” service and to synchronize your reading on your Kindle with your reading on another Kindle. But wait a minute. With the release of Kindle for iPhone, Amazon has not only created an interesting service that can travel with you whereever there is internet connectivity, but also created a streamlined purchase “deck” for buying any Amazon products at that same point.
It’s as if Amazon had just reached out and created a virtual storefront in your pocket — more usable than the mobile web sites you might use today — and had thrown in the ability to read e-Books as a sideline. What else could you use this interesting technology to promote?
I came up with a few ideas: portable notetaking, pedometer and exercise logger, automatic photograph tagger, and then it hit me straight in the face — Amazon Whispersync is a gateway drug for Amazon S3. The pipeline to deliver e-book content to any device, anywhere, is also the pipeline to deliver any files anywhere and to store them. It means that instead of having to rely on the memory capacity of my mobile device I can start to rely only on the speed of the network to deliver the information. This trend can already been seen in products like mobile Pandora, which as a streaming music program would seem to be an oxymoron on the iPhone platform. Yet strangely, it works.
So what has Amazon created? The Whispersync technology gives Amazon a technology platform to deploy some of its vast distribution capabilities in digital media. The same logistical challenges inherent in delivering whatever book I want to my doorstep are relevant to digital media, though the physical challenges look and feel a bit different. Whispersync has the promise of becoming an ecosystem — a way to easily reach Amazon customers anywhere and everywhere that they are — and a way for Amazon to extract some valuable payment from those customers whereever they happen to be. They won’t be far from their wish lists. Just wait until Mark Zuckerman gets a hold of this technology and uses it to drive micropurchases on Facebook.
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