updated 10:25 am EDT, Tue September 7, 2010
Amazon gets Xbox lead to tackle Apple in gaming
Microsoft Director of Games Platform Strategy Andre Vrignaud this weekend told readers that he was leaving the company for Amazon in what's likely a gaming push. The Xbox executive couldn't reveal his new role but made it clear it would involve games, as "you all know where my passions lie." He also teased that Amazon had long-term gaming plans, as he was "very intrigued" about what it wanted to do.
The timing comes just has rumors have intensified over Amazon's plans for media players and other devices beyond narrow-purpose devices like the Kindle. Among the both official and unofficial details, Amazon has been hiring for a new gaming project that could see it either produce a game service or game-capable devices itself.
Hardware is increasingly more likely as Amazon has dropped repeated clues that it wants to move into full touchscreen handhelds and compete more directly with Apple. It bought a multi-touch developer early this year and looked for engineers familiar with LCDs when it has dismissed them out-of-hand for reading. The bookseller has reportedly been eager to expand beyond the Kindle for a long time, but the existence of the iPad may have forced Amazon's hand by putting pressure on both the e-book business as well as future hopes for gaming and video.
To date, the Kindle has had games but only in very limited forms due to the barriers on e-paper and a wider reluctance to develop for a single-focus device.