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Amazon starts Kindle app platform to preempt Apple

updated 07:20 am EST, Thu January 21, 2010

Kindle Development Kit to allow games, more

Amazon responded to the wave of more advanced e-book readers today by unveiling plans for a Kindle Development Kit. The software tool will give developers a means of producing apps, or "active content," that will sell through the Kindle Store. Although the e-paper prevents video and other fast-motion content, apps will have full access to the 3G link and should work with both the regular Kindle and the larger DX.

Developers will get a cut of royalties similar to the new book deal that gives them a 70 percent share of the list price. Apps can remain free if they occupy less than 1MB of space and consume less than 100KB of data each month. Paid apps can either involve a typical one-time purchase or a recurring subscription.

Apps are already in development and so far include a new Zagat guide from Handmark, games like Sudoku from Sonic Boom, and some unnamed EA Mobile titles.

A limited beta of the KDK should begin in February; the company doesn't say when a final kit will be ready but only expects apps to be available sometime later this year. A Kindle Simulator app will be available for Linux, Macs and Windows PCs to test content without needing a physical device on-hand.

The move is very likely to be a preemptive move to mitigate the effect of Apple's rumored tablet launch next week, which could include a heavy e-book focus and would almost certainly include an app platform that the Kindle has lacked until now. It also mitigates the effect of a series of new e-book readers running Android, including the Barnes & Noble Nook, Entourage eDGe and Spring Design Alex.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Watch Your Empts!

    How is releasing an SDK for a product that's been on the market for years preempting Apple?

    I'm sure all the iPhone and other Mac OS developers are going to switch focus immediately so they can develop slow motion monotone apps for the Kindle.

    Like so many of these "me too" announcements, it's just another pathetic post-empt.

    Note to MacNN: From now on, whenever you get the urge to use "preempts Apple" in a headline, try changing it up a bit for accuracy's sake and go with things like "also thinks they're Apple", "tries to be Apple", "makes Apple laugh", etc.

    Note to Amazon: if you only have ONE sudoku app, and it's only in development, you've really got a long way to go to catch up.

  1. MisterMe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Steam electric locomotives ...

    ... were introduced in an attempt to stave off the transition from coal-fired steam engines to diesel electric locomotives. It didn't work. The Kindle ebook reader is very much in the same position as the coal-fired steam engine. It has some significant advantages. However, the new Apple slate computer will roll it flatter than a squirrel on I-95.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazon should continue doing what it

    has been doing with the Kindle. I'm sure there will continue to be a market for simple eReaders. Trying to challenge a high-end tablet would be suicide. The Kindle's hardware isn't really meant to do that unless Amazon is intending to introduce higher-end eReaders.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Weak Counter Move

    If even a fraction of the Apple tablet rumors are true, limited (and fugly) devices like the Kindle will die. The iPhone and iPod touch have proven the desirability & utility of pocketable handheld computers. The iPad, iSlate, iYiYi will, potentially, merge pocketable and laptop. It remains to be seen what it will be, how it will work and even it will be popular.

    It's amazing how mere rumors of a new Apple product can drive other companies to announce truly idiotic "counter moves".

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wait and See

    If the rumors are to be believed, not only will one be able to read eBooks on Apple's tablet, but Apple will also provide eBook content. This is all great. But unless Apple has come up with something better than eInk, ie, if this tablet is still a backlit device, then Amazon has nothing to worry about. The Kindle is a reader, that's it, and that's the beauty of it.

  1. dwoodruff

    Joined: Dec 1969


    imagine it...

    All the amazing apps you can use in amazing lo-res black and white... well maybe some grey...

  1. ebeyer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sounds awesome... that I know about it, I want it now :)

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