Microsoft announced at its Windows 7 launch that Amazon is releasing a Kindle reader for Windows. An Amazon spokesperson told me late Thursday: “Yes, we are working on a Kindle app for Mac.” With so many conduits for Kindle reading, the ebook leader is becoming a real platform–except that it’s closed to developers who want to build services that can talk to Kindle readers.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Look inside the code-guts of the Kindle, and you’ll find a nifty little Linux system running nifty little Java apps, some of which aren’t even visible to the user (a “PictureViewer” is one example). It’s not too dissimilar from a smartphone with a big e-paper screen, and it’s always-on 3G radio could make it a real boon for software gurus who want their services to talk to Kindle. What if you could view your Evernote notes on your Kindle, for example?
Java gurus have figured out that the Kindle is ready for this kind of development, but according to several coders I’ve spoken to, Amazon isn’t too receptive to third parties who want to make their apps interact with Kindles. In fact, most of their queries have been met with discouragement and little enthusiasm for technical support.
Charlie Tritschler, director of Amazon’s Kindle program, has hinted that an API is in the Kindle’s future. “That’s an important future direction for us,” he told the Seattle Times in 2007. But if Jeff Bezos wants the Kindle to be the “iPod of reading,” as he said in 2007, then he must realize that popularity will bring the same “closed” criticisms that have been directed at Apple.
Amazon declined to comment about future plans for an API.