Amazon: There’s a Crude Black-and-White App for That

Published on January 21, 2010
by John Paczkowski


How large is the market for crude monochrome E-Ink apps for the Kindle? We’re about to find out, because Amazon is finally opening up the e-reader to developers. The retailer unexpectedly announced the Kindle Development Kit this morning, inviting software developers to build “active content” for the device.

Active content? What the hell is that?

Short answer: Not an “app,” and it’s telling that Amazon (AMZN) refrained from using that word in its announcement. Kindle’s E-Ink display refreshes far too slowly to offer compelling video or motion graphics, so presumably, we’re talking about things like crossword puzzles, interactive books and stock tickers.


That said, Amazon is working with EA Mobile to “bring some of the world’s most popular and fun games to Kindle and their users,” though that seems a daunting challenge given the device’s rather profound limitations. I can’t imagine Need for Speed Shift and Dragon’s Lair being much fun at all on Kindle, though they’re both a blast on the iPhone. A slow-motion version of Pong might work well, though.

So, as a defensive move against Apple (AAPL) and the tablet device it is expected to debut next Wednesday, this is a little sad, particularly if Cupertino’s latest creation is indeed geared toward the publishing and content industry. Given the breadth and success of its App ecosystem, Apple is entering the content market with a huge advantage.

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