Yesterday at the urging of a friend, I ordered “Your Brain at Work” by David Rock on my iPod touch via the Amazon Kindle app. In doing so, I became one of many people who are helping the iPhone become more than just a phone. It’s latest role: e-reader. Book-related apps saw an upsurge in launches in September, according to a survey conducted by Flurry, a San Francisco-based mobile application analytics company. So much so, that book-related applications overtook games in the App Store as a percentage of all released apps. The trend isn’t an aberration. In October, one out of every five new applications launching on the iPhone was a book, Flurry said.
Because from August 2008 to the same month in 2009, more apps were released in the “games” category than any other and, as a result, the iPhone (and iPod touch) became a new handheld gaming platform, one that impacted Nintendo DS. The Japanese game device maker acknowledged that the iPhone and iPod touch were among the reasons why its profits declined drastically in the most recent quarter. Flurry emailed me some notes regarding its “Smartphone Industry Pulse” newsletter for October:
The sharp rise in e-book activity on the iPhone indicates that Apple is positioned to take market share from the Amazon Kindle as it did from the Nintendo DS. Despite the smaller form factor of the display, we predict that the iPhone will be a significant player in the book category of the media and entertainment space. Further, with Apple working on a larger tablet form factor, running on the iPhone OS, we believe Jeff Bezos and team will face significant competition.
Since its launch, the iPhone has quickly mutated from an Internet-enabled smartphone to a gaming device — and now an e-reader. It is only a matter of time before someone figures out a new role for the iPhone. Unless the Apple Tablet becomes a reality, I think there is going to continue to be a market for dedicated e-readers, mostly because it is impossible to read large amounts of text on a smaller screen.