Will Amazon’s iPhone Book Reader Kill Their Own Kindle?

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Just a week after unveiling the latest version of their Kindle wireless book reading tablet, Amazon has announced plans to sell ebooks to iPhone users.  And, in a razors 'n' blades scenario, they're giving away the Kindle for iPhone app for free, while charging nominal amounts for the downloaded ebooks (around US$9.99 for new releases and NY Times Best Sellers).

One wonders what effect, if any, this will have on Kindle sales.  The new reader boasts a thinner form factor than its predecessor, easy downloading of ebooks, plus a bigger screen and longer battery life than an iPhone.  On the other hand, the Kindle also retails for US$359, and all it does is read ebooks, unlike the app-rich iPhone. 

(The guys at G4's ATTACK OF THE SHOW have a much more thorough post-mortem of the Kindle's strengths and weaknesses here…)

Then again, ebooks have never been high on Apple's electronic agenda.  Steve Jobs himself once dismissed the Kindle by saying ‚Äúthe whole conception is flawed at the top because people don‚Äôt read anymore.‚Äù  But Amazon seems happy to stick by its original book-buying customer base, while collecting royalties on all those book downloads.

Then again, if Apple ever unveils that rumored post-Newton "iTablet," it may render the Kindle deader than Betamax.

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