Why Developers Are Interested in Kindle Fire and What It Could Mean for Publishers

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGreenGrass

When it comes to the Kindle Fire, it’s all about scale.

Tablet app developers are excited about the Kindle Fire platform because they think it could someday help them reach as many consumers as the iPad – or more.

“The Fire represents a way forward for Android developers to monetize the tablet platform,” said Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, which conducted a survey released today that revealed tablet app developers are nearly as interested in developing apps for the Kindle Fire as they were for the iPad when it came out in April 2010.

Amazon is one of three companies in the world, along with Apple and eBay, that have direct consumer relationships with 100 million or more consumers, and that fact has app developers seeing dollar signs. The Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy, two early iPad competitors running Android software, never really panned out as fertile ground for developers because they never reached enough consumers and those consumers weren’t as conditioned to buy content.

“These are people [Amazon customers] who are used to paying for content on the Amazon store,” said Schwarzhoff, who has worked on this survey each of the past eight quarters when it has been conducted.

The big number of possible customers (read: possible readers) combined with Amazon’s content strategy is why Schwarzhoff sees the Fire approaching the same popularity the iPad has with developers over the next three months.

When asked about the Fire as a development platform, 49% of 2,160 developers showed interest, according to the survey conducted by Appcelerator, a Mountain View, Calif.-based mobile development platform, and IDC, a Framingham, Ma.-based market research firm. Compare this with the 53% who said they were interested in the iPad as a platform before its April 2010 release. Today, however, the iPad stands at 88% interest from developers.

“Fire could hit 75% or 80% in three months,” Schwarzhoff said. “The holiday season and selling well will be critical factors.”

Again, with the Fire, it’s all about scale.

Related: Kindle Day Roundup


What Does It Mean for Publishers?

Significant app interest in the Fire could help book publishers develop new and increased revenue streams from book apps.

With more consumers downloading book apps on yet another device – one that could prove to be very popular – book publishers should think about customer-loyalty opportunities, said Schwarzhoff. With frequent updates to book apps, publishers can “keep the conversation going with the consumer,” he said, offering opportunities for marketing and up-selling.

A growing army of Kindle Fire app developers looking for more dollars from tablet users will experiment with new ways of turning app-buyers into repeat customers – methods that can be copied and improved-upon by book publishers.

“We’re going to see interesting monetization that will extend beyond the individual content experience,” Schwarzhoff said.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

2 thoughts on “Why Developers Are Interested in Kindle Fire and What It Could Mean for Publishers

  1. Carolyn

    We are a successful digital publishing house who utilizes every available market for our publications. We developed a book app before Amazon and used it to market and upsell our publications in other markets. it is our assessment that the Kindle Fire will exponentially grow the digital book market in a myriad of ways. Interactive books created with Flash will become popular as well as highly illustrated works.
    Currently, digital book sales are doing well in specific areas-romance and adult oriented reading. The Kindle Fire will open the door to a wider cross-section of readers namely children and families and young adults. We anticipated this last summer and are working at break-neck speed to offer books that will benefit from the Kindle Fire’s terrific platform.
    Way to go Amazon!

  2. Christopher Wills

    I’m not convinced by this interactive reading that some think will be the next big thing. For a start it will have to create its own market because genuine readers, of whom there are millions, will still want to read text with no pictures. Reading is a particular experience that some people enjoy. It can be escapism and immersion in a whole different world. It can last from minutes to hours. I have read novels from cover to cover in one sitting over a few hours. Reading is great for travelling where waiting time is inevitable these days. This and other reasons are why the ebook has gained ground so quickly, because it does not change the reading experience.
    I’m not saying interactive books will not sell, they might do well in the children’s market and they might replace some glossy picture books, the coffee table type. But I think I am on safe ground in saying they will not replace straight text and they will not make any inroads into text sales because reading is a particular experience that no amount of interaction will replace.
    If you think about it, the ultimate in interaction is a game. Consider something like World of Warcraft. This is a game made up of thousands of stories where the ‘reader’ not only interacts with the game but can also interact with their best friends. Interactive books are an in-between; they are not text stories, they are not games, they are not film or television. I would suggest respectfully that nobody should put their life savings into interactive books as the next big thing because it isn’t going to happen.



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