Mobipocket, one of our formats here at the Diesel eBook Store, was created by the lovely French couple, Thierry Brethes and Nathalie Ting. Their smart and lofty goal was to introduce an eBook format that could be rendered on a multitude of devices. It’s no wonder that Mobipocket quickly become as popular as it is. Whereas other earlier formats were designed for a particular device or company, Mobipocket strived to unite all eBooks on any and all reading devices. Democracy in action. Vive la liberté!
But, like all good murder stories, this one gets complicated.
In 2005, Amazon was hunting for a new format / platform, acquired Mobipocket. Ironically enough, Amazon then did a complete 180 on Mobi’s original intention by creating a new hybrid version that it promptly tethered to that little white plastic gismo, the Kindle (ever hear of it?). It is said the Kindle format is 99% pure Mobipocket with a wee bit of gobbledygook thrown in, so that it can be rendered on the Kindle or Kindle-supported apps, only.
In November 2006, Thierry and Nathalie said au revoir to Amazon.
Despite the somewhat contradictory nature of Amazon’s strategy, they still kept Mobipocket.com and their Mobipocket distribution side business, eBookBase, up and running. In fact, Diesel was quick to sign up for eBookBase in 2005 and has consequently served up thousands of Mobipockets to its customers throughout the years.
Last month, eBookBase informed their client base that they had no current or future intentions of renewing their contracts with the Agency Five (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster) and that they were pulling all A5 books off our site. Say what?
But wait, there’s more. Here are some other examples of Amazon’s neglect of the once proud Mobi format:
• The last Mobipocket software release of Mobipocket eBook Reader 6.2 was all the way back in 2008.
• In September 2009, Amazon announced that eBookBase was no longer accepting any new accounts for eBook distribution.
• Mobipocket was supposedly about to launch an iPhone app, in August 2008, but never did. Amazon launched their iPhone app for Kindle on March 3, 2009 and just launched their latest version on June 11 2010. However, still no iPhone app for Mobi. Or for Android, for that matter.
So, what does this all signify? Is this the swansong for Mobipocket? Did Amazon give up the Mobi-ghost? The clues are fairly tantalizing. But we’ll let you decide.