The Amazon Kindle

One of my favorite gifts from Christmas was the Amazon Kindle. Up until now I didn’t have much to write about it. The device displays text that is very crisp and readable and the battery life is fantastic. The browser isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the 5-way navigation button isn’t that great. But, overall I really enjoy my Kindle.

I have to admit something though, I don’t read books on it. To date, I’ve only read one book on the Kindle, William Strunk’s “The Elements of Style.” It’s the only book I’ve read on the Kindle, and I’m only 14% of the way through it (apparently the Kindle doesn’t display page numbers).

I instead use my Kindle as a way of reading articles that I’ve saved with Instapaper. When you want to read an article but don’t have time to right now, you just hit the Instapaper bookmarklet and the article is saved for you. Now that I have a Kindle I’ve set up Instapaper to send me the 20 most recently saved articles every morning.

Instapaper just announced some enhancements to the automatically delivered Kindle files. The files Instapaper generates are now formatted like Kindle magazines and newspapers. Tapping left and right on the 5-way navigation button will jump between articles, only the most recently sent Instapaper file is shown on the home screen, etc.

Instapaper isn’t the only one that is making the Kindle better for me, Amazon has announced the Kindle Development Kit. The beta starts next month and will give developers access to sample code, documentation, and a Kindle Simulator for Mac, PC, and Linux. The unfortunate part of the whole deal is the pricing. Amazon will take the thin side of a 70-30 revenue split but there will be limits on data transfers and the developer is responsible for overage fees.

Active content will be available to customers in the Kindle Store later this year. Your active content can be priced three ways:

  • Free – Active content applications that are smaller than 1MB and use less than 100KB/user/month of wireless data may be offered at no charge to customers. Amazon will pay the wireless costs associated with delivery and maintenance.
  • One-time Purchase – Customers will be charged once when purchasing active content. Content must have nominal (less than 100KB/user/month) ongoing wireless usage.
  • Monthly Subscription – Customers will be charged once per month for active content.

So, if a developer wanted to offer a free or one-time purchase application, they would be limited to less than 100 kilobytes of data per user per month. Go over that limit, and the developer would have to pay the bandwidth bill.

The Kindle is a fantastic device and I enjoy using it everyday. Whispernet is one of the best features of the Kindle, but it clearly comes with some downsides, especially for developers.

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