Amazon has taken the wraps off of a new development kit (KDK – “Kindle Development Kit”) for active content on the Kindle. Translation: apps and games are coming to the world’s most popular ebook reader.
A beta is expected to begin for use of the KDK in February, when select software designers will be allowed to try their hand at creating interactive content for the Kindle. Amazon envisions this as an opportunity for developers to deliver something more than reading material. Handmark is already working on an interactive Zagat Guide, for example, and Sonic Boom is creating word games and crossword puzzles. EA Games is said to already be on board, as well, and is expected to bring some of its most popular franchise titles to Kindle users.
The draw here for developers is obvious: Kindle is an established product with an enormous user base. Amazon’s device comes with a built-in 3G network that’s freely available to all users, so adding apps to a product like this seems like a no-brainer. Developers are being capped at 100MB for app sizes, with only 10MB and under being available to download via 3G. Anything 10MB+ will have to be handled through a computer connection.
I’m intrigued to see how this plays out, especially since 1) ereaders like Kindle right now use simple black-and-white displays (color ereaders are expected in the near future), which can’t offer anything nearly as dazzling as what devices like the iPhone offer, and 2) Amazon’s device is hardly the only ereader to be treading in these waters. For simple word games and crossword puzzles, like those you’d find in a newspaper, the Kindle seems ideal, but I’m curious to see how other kinds of apps are received by users.
And another thing… We have specialized apps available for smartphones such as the iPhone, Blackberry, and Palm Pre, and apps are already in the works for all sorts of tablets and digital photo frame convergence appliances. And now ereaders are adding apps as well.
Are we in danger of app overload? Aren’t software makers going to tire of crafting their programs in so many different formats? And am I the only one wondering about this?
And what happens when all these handheld devices converge? Apple’s big tablet device is expected to be announced next week, and there’s tons of scuttlebutt about it being not just a computer, but an ereader and communication device as well.
It’s only a matter of time before standards will need to be adopted for apps, ebooks, and everything else these devices can do.