Why did Amazon open-source its Kindle software?

Open source move could foreshadow Amazon opening Kindle up as an application platform akin to the iPhone/iPod

Very cool news from Amazon: It's released the source code used by the Kindle device. The code's provided as is, of course. There doesn't appear to be a license file in the distribution, but the folder is named "gplrelease" and they're using Linux 2.6.22, so I suspect it's GPLV2.

This move means that competitors can utilize the Kindle software to build a competitive device. But I think the more important news is that Kindle aims to become an application platform in the future.

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I seriously doubt a competitor will try and beat Amazon in the e-book reader device market by using the open source Kindle software. Amazon would have access to any of the competitor modifications to the Kindle software. Amazon gains little by open sourcing the Kindle software if there isn't a value to the marketplace. So what is that value to the marketplace?

We Canadians can't get Kindle devices, so I don't know what restrictions Amazon puts on running other software on the Kindle. I see today's news foreshadowing Amazon opening Kindle up as an application platform, akin to the iPhone/iPod. Why else open up the Kindle code if not for helping developers get a better sense of the platform itself? Clearly an SDK would be the next thing we should expect from Amazon.

What do you think?

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