amazonsignage2

Updated throughout to reflect Amazon comment disputing this story. 

Two developers of third-party apps for Kindle readers say they were informed by Amazon.com representatives this week that the company would be winding down its “Active Content” app developer program for Kindle e-ink devices and would no longer accept any new app submissions.

Following the initial publication of this post, Amazon said that wasn’t the case. I followed up with the two developers, who reiterated and confirmed what they were told. The developers were informed of the news by Amazon in separate phone calls and spoke with GeekWire independently of one another.

The developers said Amazon told them it would continue to sell and support apps that have already been released for Kindle e-readers. However, they said, Amazon told them that it would not be accepting new app submissions.

[Update, Wednesday morning: I’ve now spoken with a third Active Content developer who was similarly told by Amazon recently that their new Active Content apps would not be accepted. The developer was advised to shift focus to Android apps for Kindle Fire.]

The Active Content apps program is separate from Amazon’s third-party development initiatives for Kindle Fire tablets, which wouldn’t be directly affected by the move.

Responding to GeekWire’s initial inquiry on the topic, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement, “We continue to support the (Kindle Development Kit) and active content for Kindle e-readers.” After the initial post, the spokesperson responded to the specific statement that Amazon would no longer approve new Active Content app submissions: “This is not the case. We continue to approve titles from developers.”

Waynn Lue of Coliloquy, another Kindle Active Content developer, said via email that he hadn’t been told by Amazon that the program was being discontinued, and didn’t believe our report to be true.

I’m continuing to contact Active Content developers to see if any others received the message from Amazon.

Kindle “Active Content” titles include games and puzzles available for purchase and download by users of Kindle e-readers. Developers of Active Content say their relationship with Amazon has been rocky at times, particularly as the company has broadened its attention to Kindle Fire and the Android-based app ecosystem for the Amazon tablet.

Comments

  • Fred

    Why is Amazon telling developers one thing and the press something else? There’s something funny going on here.

  • RobertRobertson

    They are definitely ending it. Anyone with a basic kindle e-reader saw it disappear from the storefront sometime in the last few weeks. You can still access the active content applications by searching for them, but they are otherwise invisible now from the kindle storefront. The only way to actually go through the catalog is to bring it up on PC right now.

    Maybe it is just an error in the storefront at this time, but it seems odd to me that nobody else has reported this… I really liked the simple puzzle games introduced in the active content section (more my speed than a lot of the stuff on my phone) and was addicted to Triple Town for quite some time (I’m only 26 for the record, some of us still want thoughtful puzzle games instead of treadmill nonsense freemium games)

    • David

      No mistake. They killed the program. The problem was that they were losing money big time on the app program, mainly (in my opinion) because of the tremendous level of OCD micro-management of developers. We were extremely constrained. The content of my help was edited. The application icon was dictated and even designed by them, while my design was refused. My price was dictated. My feature set was highly edited down. QA spend days testing a single app, which caused huge delays in developers getting their apps tested and released.

      All in all, the program failed because of bad management and a flawed model. The KDK itself was an amature job. It provided the bare minimum features to allow Java 1.4 to work on the device. There was no content rendering API, and help pages had to be painfully constructed with Java screen painting code.

      My sincere wish is that they at least release the KDK into the wild and allow developers to post apps (much like with the Android app ecosystem) without them nitpicking every little detail.

      • shakethemonkey

        If what you say is true, the program had no value anyway.

  • David

    As a Kindle app developer, I find it extremely troubling that Amazon killed the program, apparently without notifying all of the app developers. There are unanswered posts in the KDK developer forums from folks submitting updates and not hearing back from QA after months.

    I was contacted in March or April 2013 and was specifically told not to mention the discontinuation to customers, or anyone else for that matter. This has been extremely frustrating for dealing with customers. I am extremely customer focused, and is really pains me when a customer makes a really great feature upgrade suggestion and I have to tell them that they’re never going to get it.

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