Amazon.com will soon have games and other iPhone-like applications available for its Kindle electronic reader, a move that comes as Apple Inc is expected to launch a tablet computer that could be a challenger in the e-reader market.
Amazon announced on Thursday that it was releasing a development kit that would let software designers make games and other active content for the Kindle. Among the early contributors will be Electronic Arts Inc's EA Mobile unit, which distributes popular mobile games like Tetris, Madden NFL and Scrabble. Amazon says the Kindle has sold briskly since its introduction in 2007, but the online retailer is facing pressure from new, formidable entrants that could squeeze what e-booksellers make from each title. Apple is widely expected to unveil its tablet computer, which could also function as an e-reader, at a special event next week in San Francisco. On Wednesday, Amazon said it will offer higher royalties on the discount books sold on Kindle as it jockeys to offer as many books as possible on the Kindle to try to make it more attractive than competitors' e-book stores. Now, by allowing software developers to come up with games and other content for the Kindle, Amazon is offering one of the most popular features of the iPhone, though the Kindle's black-and-white “electronic paper” screen could limit the vibrancy in some applications. Amazon suggested in a news release that other developments from the new software kit could include travel books that suggest activities based on real-time weather and current events, and cookbooks that recommend menus based on the size of party and guest allergies.