Did Amazon Open Kindle to Developers Because of Apple?

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Amazon has released a kit to let developers create apps for the Kindle -- just a week before as techies expect Apple  to debut its much-ballyhooed, but never before seen, tablet-slate-thing. It's impossible to know what kind of Kindle apps an army of third-party developers will produce, but it's likely that Amazon is hoping that the wisdom of the techie masses will help their product keep up with the lightspeed rumors about Apple phantom product.


I know that my colleague Megan has trouble seeing what need the Apple device is supposed to satisfy. And I agree, to an extent. But I think it's also premature to decide we have no need for a product whose only known feature is its flatness. Last night the Wall Street Journal reported that the Apple Tablet could be a player for magazines, newspapers, books, text books, music, games, and video. Hey that sounds cool! But again, if all the Apple Tablet rumors ever were true, the device would be able to stream movies while typing your dictated emails while curing your restless leg syndrome. Also, it would have been released two years ago.

But the broader point is that even though the Apple Tablet doesn't even exist yet, the rumors swirling around its non-existence have generated a kind of gravitational force that's pushing Amazon to turn its own device into an e-reader-plus. Megan and I might have no use for the Apple Tablet, but if the e-reader wars only improve the utility of the Amazon Kindle, it's a win.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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