Amazon.com has acquired Comixology, the planet's leading purveyor of digital comic books, and may just have set up a new battle between itself and Apple.
Comixology's apps use a technology called “Guided View” that resizes each panel of a comic so it fills as much of a device's screen as possible and sensible. The experience Guided View delivers is significantly better than that delivered by Amazon's own Kindle software, which your correspondent can report makes comic-reading rather miserable.
Neither Comixology nor Amazon haverevealed any more details about the deal.
Comic book movies may dominate the multiplex but actual comic books remain a niche concern. So why is Amazon bothering?
Perhaps the fact that Comixology bills through the iTunes and Play app stores is worth noting. Amazon seems unperturbed by the fact Apple won 't let users of the Kindle app make in-app purchases. In Comixology's iOS app that's the only way to buy a comic.
Amazon therefore just acquired itself an app that lets it do things Apple doesn't like it to do.
Cupertino would doubtless bring the axe down on the app if Amazon tries to sell books. But let's not forget that Amazon last year launched the Jet City Comics imprint, which has Game of Thrones' George R.R. Martin on its masthead.
Game of Thrones' popularity means lots of people will want to buy comics from Amazon and owning Comixology means they'll get a better reading experience than is currently possible.
Let's not forget, also, that Amazon has commissioned ”Originals”, a range of new video content. There's bountiful evidence of comics making it onto the big and small screens. Indeed, one of the reasons Disney bought Marvel and Warner Brothers owns DC is that comics are a cheap-ish R&D lab for character development. It's therefore conceivable Jeff Bezos imagines Jet City products could spin out to become “Originals”, with Apple helping to make it happen.
Perhaps Martin's own words explain this whole caper: "You win or you die" is something of a Game of Thrones mantra. ®