A new job listing for Lab126, Amazon’s Kindle division, suggests that Amazon is looking to implement some serious changes to the browsing experience on the Kindle.
The position specifically calls for someone to design and implement new browser features, which can only be a good thing given the current state of web browsing on the Kindle.
The Kindle’s current browsing experience is notably subpar. It’s good enough to check your e-mail, post to Twitter or read Wikipedia, but it doesn’t handle images or more complex web apps particularly well. It certainly doesn’t live up to the same vision of the mobile web being outlined by the iPhone, or Android phones like the Droid or Nexus One. And with the coming of the Apple iPad and other threats to Amazon’s dominant e-reader, which should behave on the web about as well as (if not better than) the iPhone, the Kindle had better improve its browser if the device is going to continue to compete with these more capable devices.
Amazon is clearly feeling the heat from Apple’s upcoming iPad. In the past couple of weeks, Amazon not only announced plans to release an SDK for the device in an attempt to get a Kindle app store up and running, but also purchased a company specializing in touchscreen technology. As it stands now, the app-less and black and white Kindle just can’t hold a candle to the iPad. Amazon knows this and is scrambling to play catchup. The problem, though, is that they’re trying to put a jet engine into an old hooptie. The current Kindle form factor is fine for e-book reading, but it’s a clunky device with an e-ink screen that can’t do much else.
If Amazon truly wants the Kindle to survive the iPad onslaught, it better be working on an entirely new Kindle device, one with multitouch technology and a color screen and a decent web browsing experience. And even then, it may very well prove to be too little too late.
Further Reading: Amazon planning Kindle app store