Not every newspaper can lean on one of the world’s top tech executives as a beta tester and adviser when developing a new app, but then again, not every paper is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The Washington Post, acquired by Bezos for $250 million last year, this morning launched a new app for Amazon’s Kindle Fire that promises an immersive reading experience, vivid photography and a focus on national and international audiences.
It’s the first partnership between Amazon and the Washington Post since Bezos bought the paper, and it’s notable as an example of Bezos blending his otherwise separate worlds — bridging the company he runs with one of his personal investments.
The app was developed by the Washington Post after Bezos introduced the Fire tablet and Post teams, according to an Amazon spokeswoman, who notes that Bezos “regularly interacts with the teams and makes himself available any time he is requested.”
The news release announcing the new Washington Post app came from Amazon, in the style of one of the company’s own product announcements.
The method of distribution is also striking: The app will be pushed out, U2-style, to Kindle Fire tablet owners through an automatic over-the-air software update. “Customers who do not wish to keep the app can simply delete it by pressing and holding on the app icon and selecting Remove,” says Amazon in a news release.
The app will be free for the first six months for Kindle Fire owners, with two editions each day. Versions for Android and iOS will be available next year at a cost of $3.99/month.
In interviews with the New York Times, Washington Post executives said the newspaper has been learning and adopting Bezos’ approach through its interactions with him. The decision to focus on international and national audiences in the new app is one example. They even had a code name for the initiative, “Project Rainbow,” to help maintain secrecy, in the style of tech companies.
“Through a lot of conversations with Jeff, we’ve sort of absorbed some of this stuff by osmosis,” Washington Post Editor Martin Baron told the New York Times. “We now have an opportunity to ask him how things have worked at Amazon, for example. And he has a consumer obsession.”