Amazon Opens Kindle for Developers

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In what may be a response to Apple's rumored tablet device, Amazon is opening up its Kindle ebook reader to third-party developers. Amazon plans to roll out a limited beta of its Developer program in February, and is calling Kindle applications "active content."

The Kindle developer program will include the Kindle Development Kit, or KDK, developer support, sample code, documentation, and a software-based Kindle simulator for Mac, windows and Linux. Amazon will support free, one-time purchase and monthly subscription options for active content.

Until now, the Kindle was off limits to developers, but that could be changing thanks to the real possibility that Apple will introduce its own tablet device at its special media event on January 27. Apple's rumored tablet device is said to offer ebook reader support and support for third party applications much like the iPhone and iPod touch.

Amazon also announced this week it is changing the payment structure for ebook sales. The new payment setup matches Apple's 70-30 App Store split, and Amazon will use the same payment scheme for active content, too.

Even if Apple doesn't introduce a tablet device next week -- and at this point that seems unlikely -- the company has already forced changes on the rest of the industry, which ultimately could translate into more options for consumers.

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3 Comments

Jeff Gamet

I’m thinking Amazon is really worried about what Apple may introduce next week and is making some preemptive moves to help protect its Kindle brand. Looks to me like the tablet market is heating up in a big way, and Apple hasn’t even officially thrown its hat into the ring.

doogie

Perhaps they have yet to recoup their development costs for the Kindle, but I thought the Kindle was just a tool to sell books.  It doesn’t matter if they make money on Kindles, or even sell any, as long as people buy Kindle books for their iSlate(?!), iPhone, Android, or what have you.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I guess I have to see what Apple actually unveils. I can imagine a lot of things it should do and have, but I can’t imagine any of them making it a category killer. Meanwhile, it seems like everyone else imagines it will be a category killer but can’t imagine anything new it should actually do.

In Kindle, Amazon has a highly loved niche device. Amazon has a huge catalog of content to sell for the device. The subsidized 3G access effectively puts a floor on content prices ($0.15/MB) and will put a floor on app or subscription prices, whereas the App Store raced to $0.99/app. It will be interesting to see if Apple goes the subsidized 3G route or subscriber-paid service route. It will also be interesting to see if Apple goes full color and loses outdoor readability or goes e-ink and loses multi-media ability. Frankly, I don’t even think Amazon cares much if it wins or loses the device battler. It seems happy to sell Kindle books for iPhone, for example. So I agree with doogie above.

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