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What Amazon Gains With Stanza In Its Trickbag

Amazon's acquisition of Lexcycle, the maker of e-reading app Stanza, says a lot about its e-reading dominance plans.

it would be acquired by Amazon.

But Amazon's Kindle e-reader uses proprietary software and Amazon already has a Kindle application for iPhone, so what exactly does Amazon gain with Stanza?

For starters, Stanza is an established brand. Lexcycle has been around for about a year, but Stanza is already an application with serious reach. According to Lexcycle, after Stanza's introduction in July 2008, it passed the 500,000 mark for downloads within four months, and had reached one million downloads by December.

Its popularity has exploded with e-reader consumers, and according to Lexcycle, Stanza boasts more than 1.3 million users worldwide. More than 40,000 books are downloaded daily through Stanza from Lexcycle's online catalog, according to the company.

Stanza is also versatile. It works for iPhones, but began as a desktop product for Apple Macs. It also supports a wide range of formats, e-book and otherwise, including Kindle, Mobipocket, Adobe, Microsoft LIT, Palm doc, HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word, Rich Text and EPUB, the Open eBook Standard which was established by the International Digital Publishing Forum.

More than a few pundits, including O'Reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly, have urged Amazon to embrace open e-book standards to guarantee its long-term survival.

"In developing the business plan for the Kindle, Amazon was no doubt influenced by the great success of Apple with the iPod: Proprietary hardware and proprietary file formats made Apple into the kingpin of the digital music industry," wrote O'Reilly in a February column for Forbes. "But what Amazon seems to have missed is the important role that "free" played in the success of the iPod. People didn't populate their iPods solely with music purchased from Apple. It was easy for them to "rip" their own CDs into the standard mp3 file format and load their entire music collection onto the device."

But the Lexcycle acquisition at the moment might be nothing more than an attempt by Amazon to further consolidate a market it already dominates.

"This is a significant coup on Amazon's behalf," said Tim Deal, a wireless analyst at Pike & Fischer, to NewsFactor "At first glance it would seem this is a preemptive move because Apple clearly wants to be one of the leaders in all types of digital content, and Amazon is not hesitating to move in before Apple can buy it."

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