Kindle apps seen as another challenge to Apple Tablet

For the second time in a week, Amazon has made inroads into a market traditionally owned by Apple. This time, the company is opening up the Kindle to third-party developers.

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Amazon’s Kindle DX – aimed at readers of large format documents such as newspapers and textbooks – is to go on sale in over 100 countries, just three months after the smaller Kindle 2 was launched globally. Graphic shows key features of Kindle DX and comparison with Kindle 2. KEYWORDS: Science. Technology. Entertainment. ebook. e-book. electronic book. e-reader.
The Amazon Kindle.

Yesterday, Amazon announced it would raise royalty rates for authors and publishers using the Kindle Digital Text Platform, a move widely seen as a preemptive strike against the forthcoming Apple Tablet. Now the company has invited third-party developers to produce applications for the Kindle, much in the same way that Apple allows folks to develop content for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and (presumably) the Apple Tablet.

Keep in mind, dear readers, that the Apple Tablet does not officially exist. It's rumored that Apple will take the wraps off the thing at the end of this month, although details are scarce. Still, that hasn't stopped Amazon from preparing itself for a full-out battle royale. The royalty rate hike, for instance, was widely seen as an attempt to bolster Amazon's hold on the e-book market, and prevent an onslaught by the Tablet.

Similarly, the roll-out of the Kindle Development Kit will put Amazon in direct competition with Apple. "We've heard from lots of developers over the past two years who are excited to build on top of Kindle," Amazon's Ian Freed said in a statement. "The Kindle Development Kit opens many possibilities – we look forward to being surprised by what developers invent."

Here's a blurb from the Amazon release:

The Kindle Development Kit enables developers to build active content that leverages Kindle's unique combination of seamless and invisible 3G wireless delivery over Amazon Whispernet, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, and long battery life of seven days with wireless activated. For example, Handmark is building an active Zagat guide featuring their trusted ratings, reviews and more for restaurants in cities around the world, and Sonic Boom is building word games and puzzles.

The question is, of course, whether this initiative will be successful. Presumably, Amazon will be able to rope into a lot of able developers. And as Kindle ownership climbs, the market for apps will continue to widen. But the Kindle is not the iPhone – the interface is clunkier, the screen is subpar, and well, who wants to play a video game on a Kindle? Here's PC World's Ian Paul:

Amazon, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but while the Kindle and the Kindle DX may be great for reading text, their E-ink displays just don't have that much pizzazz. I know you're touting Kindle features like 3G wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet, a high-resolution 6-inch or 9.7-inch electronic ink display, and a long battery life, but that pales in comparison to, well just about every other mobile device developers want to work on. It even pales in comparison to the iPhone 3GS with its 16GB or 32GB storage, GPS, digital compass, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G connectivity.

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