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iPad Kindle War: Amazon Grabs Touchscreen Maker

This week Amazon bought touchscreen startup TouchCo for an undisclosed amount. This is but another step in the Kindle's new, iPad-induced identity crisis.

Neither company is talking, but The New York Times reports Amazon will immediately absorb the TouchCo staff into its Kindle facilities in Cupertino, California [insert laugh here]. The real benefit here would be TouchCo's so-called "interpolating force-sensitive resistance" which, according to the Times, could be as cheap as $10 a square foot - - a single unit large enough for a Kindle.

That's the good news.

The bad news is how late they are. Two weeks ago Amazon announced an app development program for the Kindle - - right before Apple's iPad announcement made everyone forget what a Kindle was. Where was the SDK two years ago, or even last summer when Apple's App Store had its one-year anniversary? Worse, the Kindle SDK - - software development kit - - won't even go out to beta testers until late this month, so the masses won't even begin to start creating Kindle apps until the iPad is already out in March. Now a touchscreen upgrade is extremely likely, something that, despite the startup and the talk of low physical cost, will require funding a lot of research and development. The consumer will probably be picking up the tab. And again, why did it take so long for Amazon to look into a touchscreen Kindle?

Once a well-thought out, focused machine, the Kindle is taking too many steps towards becoming an iPad wannabe. Where is the once secure Amazon, boasting of record sales and believing in the product? By joining this iPad all-in-one race, Amazon is acting as if it didn't have a flashlight, a map and a three-year head start.

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