Amazon doesn't really care if the Kindle hardware dies. They'd rather it didn't, of course, but Kindle is much more than a couple of e-ink e-book readers. Kindle is much more important (and more profitable) as a store, available from tons of different devices--so just because its Kindle 2 and Kindle DX can't handle audio or video (or, um, color), that doesn't mean Amazon can't keep pushing the medium forward.
Amazon thus announced today that its Kindle app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch is receiving a significant update, allowing the embedding of audio and video inside books. Says Dorothy Nicholls, director of the Kindle team, in a press release:
"Readers will already find some Kindle Editions with audio/video clips in the Kindle Store today--from Rose's Heavenly Cakes with video tips on preparing the perfect cake to Bird Songs with audio clips that relate the songs and calls to the birds' appearances. This is just the beginning--we look forward to seeing what authors and publishers create for Kindle customers using the new functionality of the Kindle apps."
This has some pretty fantastic possible uses--Amazon also mentions that a guide of London will include embedded audio narration from the book's author, which is a great idea. You could read the book on your iPad, then listen to the tour on your iPhone or iPod Touch as you walk around Olde London-Towne. Finally, a compelling reason to have an e-book reader app on a 3.5-inch screen!
No word on what other devices might be supported. Windows, Mac, and BlackBerry all have Kindle apps, and can all support video, but were not mentioned in the press release.
The newest update also includes higher resolution images for the iPhone 4's eye-searingly sharp screen. It's available in the App Store now.