Can the Kindle work as an app platform?

Amazon is opening up the Kindle to developers in a bid to build an ecosystem that serves as a moat around the device.

Amazon is opening up the Kindle to developers in a bid to build an ecosystem that serves as a moat around the device.

On Thursday, Amazon announced that it is rolling out a Kindle Development Kit to give software developers access to tools, documentation and programming so they can build apps designed for the device.

Amazon floated a few ideas about what these apps would look like:

  • Travel books that suggest activities based on the weather;
  • Cookbooks that adapt to the size of a party;
  • And word games and puzzles.

The general idea is that the Kindle Development Kit will take advantage of the 3G in the device and other unique features.

In many respects, Amazon's move makes sense. On Wednesday, Amazon tweaked its royalty model for publishers in a bid to keep e-book prices low---and keep partners in the fold with Apple's Tablet about to launch.

So why wouldn't Amazon make an app move? Initially, word games and puzzles for bookworms will work out well. However, if Kindle users decide they want more out of their apps Amazon's device may look a bit dated. For instance, the Kindle doesn't have color. Web browsing is so-so at best. Simply put, there are a few limitations with the Kindle. Clearly, these apps won't be like iPhone games. Will Kindle users live with that?

We'll find out. Amazon's kit for developers launches in limited beta next month.