updated 07:20 am EST, Thu January 21, 2010
Kindle Development Kit to allow games, more
Amazon responded to the wave of more advanced e-book readers today by unveiling plans for a Kindle Development Kit. The software tool will give developers a means of producing apps, or "active content," that will sell through the Kindle Store. Although the e-paper prevents video and other fast-motion content, apps will have full access to the 3G link and should work with both the regular Kindle and the larger DX.
Developers will get a cut of royalties similar to the new book deal that gives them a 70 percent share of the list price. Apps can remain free if they occupy less than 1MB of space and consume less than 100KB of data each month. Paid apps can either involve a typical one-time purchase or a recurring subscription.
Apps are already in development and so far include a new Zagat guide from Handmark, games like Sudoku from Sonic Boom, and some unnamed EA Mobile titles.
A limited beta of the KDK should begin in February; the company doesn't say when a final kit will be ready but only expects apps to be available sometime later this year. A Kindle Simulator app will be available for Linux, Macs and Windows PCs to test content without needing a physical device on-hand.
The move is very likely to be a preemptive move to mitigate the effect of Apple's rumored tablet launch next week, which could include a heavy e-book focus and would almost certainly include an app platform that the Kindle has lacked until now. It also mitigates the effect of a series of new e-book readers running Android, including the Barnes & Noble Nook, Entourage eDGe and Spring Design Alex.