Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon’s iPad App Will Be All New, but It Won’t Be Ready by April 3

Want to read the books you bought for your Kindle on your new iPad? You’ll have to be patient.

Amazon promises that the iPad version of the Kindle app it is working on will be cool, but it won’t be ready when the first Apple devices show up April 3. That’s because the e-commerce giant, like most developers, hasn’t been able to test the app on a real device. And it’s going to wait until it can do so to finish the software.

How will the app compare with Amazon’s other Kindle implementations–and more important, with Apple’s (AAPL) own iBook program?

Amazon (AMZN) isn’t saying much, though Kindle manager Ian Freed tells the New York Times (NYT) his group has “developed a tablet-based interface that redesigns the core screen and the reading experience.” The paper, which got a preview, informs us that the app “allows readers to slowly turn pages with their fingers.”

Amazon has created software versions of its Kindle reader for just about every conceivable platform, including Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch. Barnes & Noble’s Nook will have an iPad app too, though Barnes & Noble (BKS) will also wait until it can actually touch one of the tablets before finishing the app.

As the Times notes, only a handful of developers (including The Wall Street Journal, which, like this Web site, is owned by News Corp.) have been allowed to work with the device for the past couple months. But beyond “First!” bragging rights, I’m not sure the head start will be that big a deal for developers in the long run.

There are some iPhone/iPod apps that got a big boost by arriving early to Apple’s iTunes. But there are many other successful programs that showed up later and thrived. ESPN’s ScoreCenter, for instance, didn’t debut for nearly a year after the app store opened for business, but it quickly became the most popular sports app.

And remember that when developers created their first programs for the iPhone, they were working on a platform that already sold millions of units in the previous year. First-mover status for the iPad, though, means your initial audience will likely be in the “hundreds of thousands.”

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