Is Apple leaving ebooks to Amazon?

In an alternative universe, Amazon's Kindle ebook reader would have been an Apple device. It's well designed, easy to use, has a closed content ecosys

In an alternative universe, Amazon's Kindle ebook reader would have been an Apple device. It's well designed, easy to use, has a closed content ecosystem and - crucially - is managing to stay one generation ahead of the opposition.

In our universe, however, Steve Jobs famously said, "The whole conception is flawed because people don't read anymore." I wonder if Jobs has been reading the papers himself this week, when the release of Amazon's Kindle application for the iPhone generated many more column inches than Apple's own iMac and MacBook Pro launches - and found itself the third popular download at Apple's App Store.

It's a smart move by Amazon. The number of Americans who'll splash out $360 (£255) on an actual Kindle reader is limited, especially when times are hard. But hook even a small fraction of the legion of iPhone users into the Kindle experience - which offers 240,000+ books and keeps tracks of your place in every book and article you're reading - and you're banking future customers.

This is a model Apple should be familiar with. How many people who started with an iPod are still buying songs through iTunes just because it's convenient? If Amazon can manage a similar trick with its Kindle marketplace, there's no reason why it can't achieve similar dominance - and in an industry where DRM is still tolerated.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Apple all along, and Jobs just didn't read it.