updated 04:35 pm EDT, Fri March 18, 2011
Amazon hires Android veterans for Kindle team
Amazon's Lab126 careers page has given clues of possible plans to use Android in future Kindle readers. More than five postings have surfaced in the past week for those with Android experience. While Amazon needs Android-ready staff to write Kindle apps for the Google platform, the NYT discovery is unique as Lab126 is focused mostly on the design for the Kindle hardware and software.
It could still involve development of Kindle Android apps, but the scale and nature of the team could involve hardware closer to a tablet or an Android-based e-reader like the Barnes & Noble Nook line. Current Kindles use a custom Linux platform that's relatively limited. The Kindle already has a rudimentary app platform, but its limited feature set and very poor uptake have left it a non-starter.
CEO Jeff Bezos has insisted that Amazon wouldn't chase the iPad and would concentrate on e-readers. Corporate buyouts and hiring, however, has hinted at designs that would come closer to a tablet, even if not directly competitive. It bought multi-touch firm TouchCo in a clear sign of wanting a tablet-like interface, and hiring last year saw it recruit for LCD experience.
One option is to follow the route taken by the Nook Color. In stock form, it runs Android and can run a limited set of third-party apps but doesn't have direct access to Android Market or most usual Android features. Amazon has been eager to poke fun at iPad usability but may have revealed a desire to get closer in functionality.