Research in Motion unveiled its BlackBerry tablet yesterday, and indicated it’s aimed at the enterprise professional. Workers need leisure time too, and tablets make good e-readers, so RIM was showing off the Kobo e-book reader app on the new PlayBook. Amazon has put the Kindle app on most mobile platforms, and announced its intention to put it on the PlayBook, too. The PlayBook may be poised to hit the enterprise, but e-book reading will be represented at launch of the BlackBerry slate.
The Kobo reader app is already running on the PlayBook and is featured in the demo of the tablet. Kobo is also introducing a social aspect to its reader app on the BlackBerry platform by tapping into the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) API that provides access to the user’s contacts and RIM’s messaging programming. BlackBerry announced it’s opening up the API for the BlackBerry Messenger service, making it possible to develop third-party apps that can tap directly into the BlackBerry contacts and messaging ability. Kobo was chosen as a partner to show how developers can extend the capability of their apps by integrating them into the BBM service.
The Kobo reader app is a good example of what this open API can bring to apps on the BlackBerry. Kobo book customers can have real-time discussions about books they are reading, and tap their contacts for recommendations on books to buy. This opens up a new area of social consumer services made possible by the opening of the BBM API on all BlackBerry devices; this is a huge installed customer base and creates a big opportunity for app developers. Stacey Higginbotham told us that social is the killer app for phones, and RIM obviously agrees.
Update: Amazon is getting into the social e-reading experience, as today it announced the Kindle for the Web service. You can’t read your books or access your Kindle e-book library, but with a simple button tap on a Kindle book page at Amazon, you can read a preview of the book in your browser. The book can be purchased with a push of a button, and you can share passages from the book with your social networks.
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