RIP: Mobipocket 2000-2011
Amazon finally pulled the trigger; today they announced the imminent demise of Mobipocket.
They sent out an email to publishers today. If you’ve ever signed up to sell as ebook via Mobipocket.com then you probably got one.
To better serve authors, publishers and customers, Amazon is consolidating eBook sales & publishing to the Kindle Platform. Mobipocket will not accept new eBook submissions for sale on Mobipocket.com or its affiliated retailers after Dec 2, 2011 and will stop all sales and remove your existing eBooks after Jan 2, 2012.
This really comes as no surprise; Mobipocket haven’t released any updated apps since 2008, and their payment service had been on the fritz since August. Their support forums had long since been taken over by spammers, which shows that Amazon had pared the staff done to zip. And of course only a few weeks ago Amazon killed off the remaining Mobipocket library ebooks when they brought the Kindle library ebooks online.
Amazon bought Mobipocket in 2005 and soon started dismantling it in order to use it to build the Kindle platform. The file format, DRM, on-device ebookstore, reader apps, and even MobiGen (command line ebook creation tool) were all sucked into the Kindle.
In fact, you used to be able to see bits and pieces of the old Mobipocket code sticking out. Earlier this year I discovered that the Kindle for PC app inherited an easter egg from the old Mobipocket Desktop PC app. You can embed certain types of music files into a Kindle ebook and the app will play them. (Unfortunately it looks like this easter egg was disabled in an update. Damn.)
And when I say that the apps were pulled into the Kindle platform, I’m probably not wrong. I know that Mobipocket was supposed to get an iPhone app by December 2008; Martin Gorner (Mobipocket’s CEO) said that at the IDPF conference in May of that year. The Mobi app never happened, but I suspect that the app did show up 6 months later under the Kindle brand.
In any case, it’s time to move on.
Can you believe how little is left from 10 years ago? MS Reader was marked for death earlier this year and Mobipocket is about to die; all that’s left of the early major platforms is eReader (Palm), and I’m not sure why B&N haven’t killed that format yet.
Or you could look at it another way and wonder how the heck did this old tech hold on so long? Seriously, 10 years is a good run. Just think about how much has changed. The Mobipocket format and apps were designed to work on 20MHz mobile CPUs, and we’re now accustomed to hardware a hundred times more powerful.