Still not convinced after yesterday’s revenue sharing announcement that Amazon is gearing up for war with the Apple Tablet? Overnight, they’ve announced a Kindle Developer’s Kit, where you can design apps to be sold on the Kindle. Yes, the ebook reading, e-ink screen Kindle.
If you’re interested, here are the terms of the deal:
User revenue will be split 70% to the developer and 30% to Amazon net of delivery fees of $0.15 / MB. Remember that unlike smart phones, the Kindle user does not pay a monthly wireless fee or enter into an annual wireless contract. Kindle active content must be priced to cover the costs of downloads and on-going usage.
Active content will be available to customers in the Kindle Store later this year. Your active content can be priced three ways:
* Free – Active content applications that are smaller than 1MB and use less than 100KB/user/month of wireless data may be offered at no charge to customers. Amazon will pay the wireless costs associated with delivery and maintenance.
* One-time Purchase – Customers will be charged once when purchasing active content. Content must have nominal (less than 100KB/user/month) ongoing wireless usage.
* Monthly Subscription – Customers will be charged once per month for active content.
Active content applications have an upper size limit of 100MB. Applications larger than 10MB will not be delivered wirelessly but can be downloaded from the Kindle Store to a computer and transferred to the user’s Kindle via USB.
Voice over IP functionality, advertising, offensive materials, collection of customer information without express customer knowledge and consent, or usage of the Amazon or Kindle brand in any way are not allowed. In addition, active content must meet all Amazon technical requirements, not be a generic reader, and not contain malicious code.
We will work to refine the above guidelines throughout the beta.
Pretty straightforward, all things considered. But here’s one of the more interesting bits. Engadget says EA Mobile is already signed on, as has Handmark. Do you think EA Mobile signed on so they could make a laggy, slow refresh rate version of tetris? Didn’t think so. So here’s my theory…
This is the strongest proof yet that Amazon is developing a color Kindle, probably using Qualcomm’s Mirasol display as rumored by Engadget. Think about the ebook reader world as it stands now. We’ve got a veritable army of generic e-ink readers, some packing wireless capabilities, from well known companies to obscure Chinese manufacturers. On the other side, there’s the upcoming tablet frenzy, presumably spearheaded by the rumored Apple Tablet. Where does the Kindle WANT to fit in all this?
Amazon launched ebooks into prime time with the Kindle. Sony may have started the mainstream push with their Reader series, but it was the Kindle that really drove growth and mindshare. Now, though, the Kindle is just another e-ink device; even its wireless capabilities are not anything unique. And e-ink is great, but there are limits to how fast it can refresh, plus it cannot support video content at all. Meanwhile, there are a few screen manufacturers out there who make color screens that function similar to e-ink; no backlighting like LCDs, and they can mimic e-ink’s clear black and white paper look. But they’ve got more tricks up their sleeves, as these “color reader” displays also support high-definition video, photos, etc.
So, again, what’s EA Mobile doing on the Kindle app store? And why, suddenly, is Amazon looking to develop apps for the Kindle? This announcement was probably generated by fear of the Apple Tablet, but it is highly unlikely that Amazon came up with a last minute “App store! That’ll save us!” type plan. It’s far more likely that this was in the works, but they’ve moved up the announcement timetable to keep from looking outdated when Steve Jobs takes the stage next week. And if Apple is announcing “enhanced” ebooks for the iTablet, Amazon would have that covered too; a color Kindle could handle any ebook “enhancements” without breaking a sweat, and that keeps Amazon at the forefront of the ebook game.
My prediction: We’ll see an announcement from Amazon in the next few months about the Kindle 3, and it will most likely be packing a color screen. It might not be available as soon as they announce it, but they’ll get the word out sooner rather than later. After all, if I’m going to play Tetris on my Kindle, I want it to be in glorious color!