Kindle e-reader? There is an app for that. Or, at least there will be as Amazon courts developers with the KDK (Kindle Developers Kit). The question, though, is whether or not Kindle users are even interested in apps.
The move by Amazon seems to be partly a way to raise the bar and set the Kindle apart from competing e-readers like the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Plastic Logic Que proReader. It also seems like an aggressive move by Amazon to expand the functionality of the Kindle to provide a more “tablet-like” experience to preempt the rise of tablet PC’s–like the Apple tablet PC expected to be announced by Apple next week.
What I found when I wrote about the blurring line between e-readers and tablet PC’s, and the possibility that the e-reader’s days could be numbered as a standalone gadget, is that Kindle users are apparently quite proud of the fact that the Kindle is not a tablet PC, and they don’t seem all that interested in apps.
One reader, “NotABubba”, said “What differentiates devices like the Kindle and other dedicated e-readers is that they replicate an immersive book experience. An avid reader doesn’t want the technology to interfere with the story, if you will.”
NotABubba goes on to say “I don’t want my “book” to distract me by streaming videos, popping up Tweets, reminding me of my eBay bid or playing my music collection. I’ve got smartphones, netbooks, tablets, and cranial implants to do that for me!!”
Another reader, “LaurenRobison”, added “I don’t need my Kindle to have a thousand aps, I have a smart phone that does that and I have a desktop PC at home to surf the net. The Kindle does just what I bought it for and that is to read and purchase books.. Period. Tablets? Nah…. Don’t need or want one!”
“jlong7” said “I have Kindle on my computer (where I like to review and edit notes and marginalia) and on my iPhone (which I use to look up quotes). I have never done any pleasure reading on my computer or phone.”
To be fair, there were some comments in favor of apps. One reader in particular is pining for a chess app. I have to admit that a chess app certainly seems apropos for an e-reader device like the Kindle. Certainly, much more fitting than say one of the vast variety of fart noise apps available for the iPhone, or games like Need for Speed Undercover.
On the one hand, the E-ink display and lack of backlight–two things that stand out as favorite features of the Kindle among its avid fans, limit the options for apps. Many of the tens of thousands of apps available for smartphones, and speculated to work with the rumored Apple tablet PC, simply won’t translate well to the black and white display.
On the other hand, apps–any apps–will consume battery power. Comment after comment trumpeted the exceptional battery life of the Kindle as one of the things that makes it ideal as a format for reading electronic books without having to carry around a power cord, or constantly recharge it. Apps will adversely impact battery life and negate one of the most coveted features of the Kindle.
Amazon is thinking outside of the box and trying to stay a step ahead of the competition–both from other e-readers and from the emerging tablet PC market. However, if the comments on my previous Kindle apps article are any indication, Amazon may need to go back and reconsider what makes the Kindle successful and what the Kindle users really want.