Amazon to take on Apple in burgeoning apps business

21 Jan 2010

Online retail giant Amazon has revealed plans to open up its popular Kindle platform to allow “active content” – aka software apps – and has unveiled a Kindle Development Kit in a move that will directly position it against Apple.

Amazon announced it is inviting software developers to build and upload active content that will be available in the Kindle Store later this year.

The new Kindle Development Kit, it says, gives developers access to programming interfaces, tools and documentation to build active content for Kindle.

Consumer spending

Consumers are expected to spend US$6.2 billion in 2010 in mobile application stores while advertising revenue is expected to generate US$0.6 billion worldwide, according to Gartner.

Analysts said mobile application stores like the Apple Apps Store, the Nokia Ovi Store, the Samsung Apps Store, the Vodafone 360 Store, RIM’s App World, the Palm Pre Apps Store and the Google Android Marketplace will exceed 4.5 billion downloads in 2010, eight out of 10 of which will be free to end users.

Worldwide mobile application stores’ download revenue exceeded US$4.2 billion in 2009 and will grow to US$29.5 billion by the end of 2013. This revenue forecast includes end-user spending on paid-for applications and advertising-sponsored free applications.

Advertising-sponsored mobile applications will generate almost 25pc of mobile application stores’ revenue by 2013.

It is understood that revenue from apps sold via the Amazon Kindle platform will be split, with 70pc of the revenue going to the developer, 30pc going to Amazon with the net of delivery fees of 15 cents per megabyte.

Information about the Kindle Development Kit

Developers can learn more about the Kindle Development Kit today and sign up to be notified when the limited beta starts next month.

“We’ve heard from lots of developers over the past two years who are excited to build on top of Kindle,” said Ian Freed, vice- president, Amazon Kindle.

“The Kindle Development Kit opens many possibilities – we look forward to being surprised by what developers invent.”

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.

“As the leading worldwide publisher of mobile games, EA Mobile has had the privilege of collaborating with many dynamic and innovative companies in bringing exciting gaming experiences to new platforms,” says Adam Sussman, vice-president of Worldwide Publishing, EA Mobile.

“Working with Amazon, we look forward to bringing some of the world’s most popular and fun games to Kindle and their users.”

Limited beta

Starting next month, participants in the limited beta will be able to download the Kindle Development Kit, access developer support, test content on Kindle, and submit finished content. Those wait-listed will be invited to participate as space becomes available.

The Kindle Development Kit includes sample code, documentation, and the Kindle Simulator, which helps developers build and test their content by simulating the 6-inch Kindle and 9.7-inch Kindle DX on Mac, PC, and Linux desktops.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years