Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Amazon Swoop Strategically

A potentially very strategic acquisition was made yesterday by Amazon when they bought the e-reader application start-up Lexcycle. Lexcycle’s iPhone application Stanza is probably the most popular mobile ebook application platform and has been a huge success on the iPhone, claiming half a million hits in the first months after it app launch and 1.5 million users. Stanza is a ereader and book store application that is also available on Mac and PCs and was working closely with Adobe to make its ACS4 DRM service available to mobile platforms.

Repeating the message that B&N gave when it bought Fictionwise less than a month ago, it is reported that Lexcyxle will continue to operate at arms length from Amazon. Lexcycle’s company statement said, 'Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners. We look forward to offering future products and services that we hope will resonate with our passionate readers.’

So on one hand Amazon is gathering up the digital options and placing them quietly in ‘fortress Amazon’; Booksurge (POD), Audible (audio), ABE (long tail and rare books), Mobi (DRM) and now Stanza (ebook platform). In all cases their moves have taken out either a rising star or narrowed the options within the market. They have built a very impressive family that covers all the bases between author/ publisher and readers. The acquisitions have not been expensive but are clearly strategic in their nature. Sometimes, like with Audible, they have been in conflict with Amazon’s position and this latest one certain could be seen at odds with their Kindle application.

Its also interesting that the dust has hardly settled on the Fictionwise acquisition by B&N that this move has been swiftly executed. It also comes as many waited for Adobe’s ACS4 DRM to be ported via Stanza to the iPhone effectively opening up secure epub and AeB formats to the mobile.

We have to wait and see how Amazon move forward but what is certain by this acquisition is that the ebook agenda is clearly moving onto the mobile platform and maybe despite the sales of K1 and K2 Amazon has seen the competitive threat that Adobe/ Stanza / epub / AeB poses if left unchecked.

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