Guest Commentary: In science fiction stories, everybody has that amazing device that people can carry in their pockets but magically expands to a full-size computer. It recognizes hand motions and you can talk to it.

Roy Leban

While I’m waiting for that, I carry around a MacBook Pro, an Android phone, and a Kindle.

As both a Kindle user and as a developer of interactive puzzle books for Kindle, I’m excited about today’s announcements of the new Kindles and the Kindle Fire tablet. Here’s why:

Price. Wow! At $79 for the entry-level Kindle and only $199 for the Kindle Fire, these things are going to sell like hotcakes. They are so lightweight and so simple to use that even more people will buy them in addition to their iOS or Android device. And that means a huge market for our interactive books.

Not only does that make us happy, but a larger market will attract better content.

Touch. Amazon’s late to the party on touch, but I predict that the Kindle Touch will be, by far, its best-selling Kindle ever. The Kindle Keyboard (the newly coined name for what used to be the Kindle 3) is a great reading device, but the keyboard doesn’t help reading and makes the device larger and heavier.

The touch screen provides a much better opportunity for our interactive books and app vendors, as well, will appreciate it.

Android. I love my Nexus S, my second Android phone. Android phones are selling better than iPhones. But, generally, Android tablets are a poor lot. Heavy, clunky, slow.

The Kindle Fire looks like the first really good Android tablet. Amazon’s enhancements to Android are solid and I think the way they’ve integrated the bookshelves is fantastic.

Displays.  It’s common in the software industry for a company to change their story when they launch new products.

You know that great thing we were selling yesterday? Well, it stinks compared to our new product. Wink, wink. 

In announcing both the new Kindles and the Kindle Fire, Amazon didn’t do that. Instead, they affirmed something they’ve been saying all along (and which I happen to agree with): E Ink displays are fantastic for reading. 

And they also implicitly said something that they’ve avoided saying: E Ink displays are just no good for Fruit Ninja. But, if that’s your thing, we’ve got a Kindle Fire with a gorgeous LCD display for you.

You get to pick the device which is better for your needs (and, oh yeah, if you really want to read on your Kindle Fire, you can do that too).

It’s not all perfect.

An additional touch platform means that it will be even longer before we, as an industry, converge on how touch on these devices really ought to work. Even with all the shipping devices, we’re not there yet. And, developers with existing titles, like Puzzazz, have to update them. That’s always a pain, but it’s particularly painful in the Kindle ecosystem. Amazon could learn a thing or two on how to run a developer program from Apple and Microsoft.

But, overall, this announcement is really exciting.

Roy Leban is founder and CTO of Puzzazz, a puzzle technology company based in Redmond. He’s even more excited about their forthcoming line of word search books for Kindle than he is about the new Kindles.

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