Kindle Gains Free Games

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The Kindle's software development kit has been largely forgotten since Amazon announced it in January, because nothing ever came of the supposed iPad counter-measure.

At last, the Kindle Development Kit has yielded two free games: Every Word challenges players to come up with as many words as possible from a scrambled concoction of letters, and Shuffled Row is like a solitary Scrabble, in which letters are replaced whenever the player uses them to create words.

Obviously, this isn't Doom for Kindle (though I have seen video of Super Mario Bros. running on a Kindle software emulator, riddled with bugs). It's more of an answer to Barnes & Noble, which stocks the Nook with Chess and Sudoku.

Amazon tells ZDNet that it's still working with "limited-beta developers" and says to stay tuned for more developments, but over the last seven months I've grown apathetic about the whole thing. The Kindle Development Kit was exciting in the run-up to Apple's iPad debut (remember when we only knew it as "the tablet?"), when it seemed like a desperate attempt to add new uses to an ultimately single-purpose device.

Now, Amazon appears to have embraced the Kindle's non-iPadness, with an emphasis on a better screen and faster response in the third-generation model instead of a longer feature list. And with the Kindle Wi-Fi's $139 price tag, comparisons to the iPad just don't seem all that appropriate anymore.

I'm happy to see the Kindle get a couple games, and I hope we see more apps soon, like the once-promised Zagat dining guide. But getting apps out there no longer seems as urgent as it did when the Kindle Development Kit debuted.

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At a Glance
  • The third-generation Kindle is the first to truly make e-reading an appealing proposition.


    • Reasonable price
    • Speedy page turns
    • Light weight
    • Higher contrast screen


    • Lacks the shop-anywhere convenience of 3G model
    • PDF handling remains weak
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