'Send to Kindle', and read it later

Last night something strange caught my attention, nearly enough to post a late-day story. Then this morning I got a little email nudge from Amazon PR, and thought: "Yeah. Why not?" The timing and broader ecosystem implications are interesting for service "Send to Kindle". Just as Google whacks RSS -- pulling feed icons from its products and setting Reader's execution -- Amazon provides a mechanism for saving content you come across, say, browsing at work for reading at home on your ebook reader or tablet.

The concept is by no means new, not even for Amazon. There are several good cloud services dedicated to saving content for later reading or incorporating the capability. Instapaper comes to mind, and Feedly has an easy tap mechanism to save for later. What makes Send to Kindle different is device/app-specificity. Additionally, websites, including WordPress blogs, can place a button supporting the service.

The button is the new thing, and, according to Amazon's marketing spiel, "lets you easily send that content to your Kindle to read later, at your convenience. Just send once and read everywhere on any of your Kindle devices or free Kindle reading apps for iPhone, iPad and Android phones or tablets. No more hunting around for that website or blog that caught your eye -- just open your Kindle and all the content you sent is right there".

What Amazon needs is developer support, and there is more process than just placing a button here. How little or much depends somewhat on site markup. From the developer info page: "If you use Facebook's Open Graph, schema.org, or hNews, let us know and we will know where to look. If you don't use any of these, select Custom CSS Selectors and tell us specifically how you mark the title, author and publication date".

The question to ask: Why bother? Amazon leads the ebook reader market, but IDC says the market is in steep decline as consumers choose tablets instead. There, Amazon trails Samsung some and iPad by considerable market share -- 11.5 percent, 15.1 percent and 43.6 percent, respectively in fourth quarter, according to IDC. Why should any website bother with a Send to Kindle button? Early adopters answer the question -- the aforementioned WordPress, Time and Washington Post, for starters. Amazon has fairly tight relationships with newspaper and magazine publishers, offering superb selection of periodicals.

Even if there is only modest adoption of the button, Amazon provides plenty of other options at the "Send to Kindle" site: Browser plug-ins for Chrome and Firefox, OS X and Windows apps, email option and Android app.

From a customer perspective, Send to Kindle fits into the larger Amazon digital lifestyle, for which tablets play a larger role. Only Amazon has done any meaningful Android customization on tablets, creating a curated experience similar to Apple's. Like iOS, Amazon Android is tightly vertically and horizontally integrated with siloed services. For example, Kindle Fire is designed to mainly work within the Amazon content/retail sphere and little outside it. Amazon runs its own stores -- everything from apps to movies -- while shunning Google Play. Meanwhile, Kindle Fire supports the custom Silk browser rather than the stock Android one or Chrome.

On devices/apps designed for reading, Send to Kindle fits. The point is digital lifestyle, which Amazon supports on multiple devices -- PCs, smartphones and tablets -- not just Kindles. Would you or do you use Send to Kindle?

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