Samsung and Amazon customize Kindle app, offer free e-books

The smartphone maker is increasingly relying on content to differentiate its products

Users of the new Kindle for Samsung app will get up to 12 e-books for free a year, as Samsung Electronics joins forces with Amazon.com to boost the content on its mobile devices.

The app will arrive this month for the Galaxy S5, and then become available on other Samsung smartphones and tablets, the company said on Thursday.

The free book offering is called Samsung Book Deals, and will be available to all users of the application. Users won't be able to choose just any title, but instead pick from a selection of four different titles every month.

The Kindle for Samsung app isn't just about free books: The two companies are also hoping users will buy books, newspapers and magazines from the app's store.

That Samsung is joining forces with a company like Amazon shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the smartphone market. The pace of hardware improvements has slowed down and high-end devices have similar specs. Vendors have to look elsewhere to differentiate their products and offering books, music and video is one way to do it.

The Galaxy S5 went on sale on April 11, and the same week Samsung also announced a deal with streaming music service Deezer. People buying the Galaxy S5 in countries such as the U.K. and Germany will get a six-month subscription for free.

"The S5 is Samsung's most important smartphone model bar none in 2014.... That it gets off to a good start and creates a trickle-down effect for the rest of the portfolio is critical. If the S5 does well Samsung does well, and if it doesn't do so well, Samsung will have a tough year," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in a recent interview.

Samsung isn't the only company leaning on music to make its devices more attractive. Apple is reportedly working with Shazam Entertainment on a song-discovery feature that will be integrated into an upcoming version of iOS, according to Bloomberg.

Shazam didn't want to comment on the rumor, a spokeswoman said via email.

While Samsung is signing content deals to make its mobile devices more attractive, Amazon has stepped up efforts to increase its presence in our lives. With the Fire TV it hopes to take over the living room, and rumors of an Amazon smartphone won't go away.

With Fire TV and its Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon is turning into a strong multi-device content provider, according to Bob O'Donnell, principal analyst at Technalysis Research.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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