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Amazon snaps up iPhone e-book reader app Stanza

In an effort to expand its e-book reach, Amazon acquires Lexcycle, the maker of a popular iPhone e-book reader app called Stanza. It appears to be hedging its bets.


Maybe Steve Jobs doesn't think there's a market for e-books on the iPhone, but Amazon seems to. On Monday, it acquired Lexcycle, the company that developed the popular Stanza iPhone and iPod Touch e-book reader application, for an undisclosed sum.

At first glance, it's unclear exactly why Amazon would buy Lexcycle when it has its own successful Kindle iPhone e-book reader application. But it appears to be hedging its bets by picking up what it thinks is "an innovative company" that works across multiple mobile platforms.

Clearly, Amazon is looking beyond the Kindle 2 and salivating over the 37 million iPhone and iPod Touch devices already in the market, as well as the upcoming Palm Pre, Google's Android phones, and future Windows Mobile phones. There's also talk of a rumored oversize iPod Touch that's due out later this year that would make for a potentially intriguing e-book reader. Plus, the Stanza reader supports the ePub format, which is quickly becoming the standard for e-books outside the proprietary format that Amazon uses for the Kindle.

As we've come to expect from Amazon, it was a bit coy in its remarks to The New York Times' Bits blog. Cinthia Portugal, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said, "It's very early days for e-books, and we believe there is a lot of innovation ahead of us. Lexcycle is a smart, innovative company, and we look forward to working with them to innovate on behalf of readers."

In announcing the deal on its blog, Lexcycle assured Stanza devotees that it wouldn't be making any changes to the application or user experience as a result of the acquisition. "Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners," the post said. "We look forward to offering future products and services that we hope will resonate with our passionate readers."

What do you think? Smart move by Amazon? Was it a good time for Lexcycle to sell?

As always, feel free to comment.