Contact Us menu-bars menu-close

Will Amazon open up Kindle for third party developers?


Siddharth Sethi

September 27, 2009

Hmm – read this somewhere, can’t remember. Maybe it was the New York Times.

Tweeted about this a few hours ago. Initially liked the concept. But then had conflicting ideas.

It is all great to see third party apps and different uses for a device. One might like to surf the internet and play games on the Kindle. But look at it from Amazon’s point of view. The primary revenue source that Amazon is banking on from the Kindle platform is book and subscription revenue. After all, the incremental cost of delivering a book to the Kindle is close to zero and hence the profit margins are huge – close to 100%. Now, if you and me start playing games and surfing the internet, would it not cannibalize on those sales? I would buy the Kindle, read a few books, but then conveniently go online and spend my time there. One might argue that if you can do it on a plethora of devices around you – phone, PC, game boxes and so on – why spare the Kindle? That is where the conflicting thoughts come in.

Would Amazon prefer you to spend time on the internet (for reading, mostly?) or playing games with your buddies (social networking)? Or would it rather have you buying books and subscriptions on the Kindle (whether you read them or not) that directly add to its bottom line?

After some deliberation, here is my opinion.

There are many devices out there that allow you to do what you want to on the internet and social networking sites. Use them to your heart’s desire. If you want to read a book, come to the Kindle and stay there for reading books.

From Amazon’s perspective, they are leaders in the eBook segment and would want to remain that. They have the biggest (?) database of books and subscriptions which they want to capitalize on. When one buys a Kindle, they are doing it specifically for reading, not anything else and they know what they are going into. So Amazon’s priorities are set. They would like to continue to build on those strengths.

Now, if Amazon were to open up their APIs, it would rather be to capitalize on their existing strengths, not enable you to browser the internet or play games, unless they can find ways to restrict you to do so in a manner that has very good chances of enhancing their bottom line. They would rather open APIs so that third party software developers can create integration points allow you to create, say a social network recommendation engine, share what you are reading to get other people excited about that and eventually buy.

My opinion – if Amazon were to open up the Kindle API doors, open them only so much that would allow development of software that directly helps their book and subscription sales. Chess can be played on the other device(s) that you own.

Get updates. Sign up for our newsletter.


Let's explore how we can create WOW for you!