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Bezos's big move: Kindle app for Washington Post will bring in 'millions' of readers


By Noel Young | Correspondent

November 23, 2014 | 4 min read

A new app is expected to deliver The Washington Post to millions of Amazon Kindle tablet owners for free and potentially set the newspaper on the road to becoming a much bigger international force.

Jeff Bezos: "Beta tester"

It is the first formal collaboration between Amazon and the newspaper since Amazon chief Bezos bought The Post for $250m last year, said the New York Times. The Times itself could be among the first to feel the whiff of competition from the much bigger, bolder newspaper.

The new app, with preloaded articles, pictures and advertisements, was designed in close collaboration with Bezos, said Shailesh Prakash, The Post’s head of technology.

“We talked to him constantly,” Prakash said, describing Bezos as ” our most active beta tester.”

Executives at the Post said in interviews with the NYT that the app represented the most tangible sign yet that the company’s culture was melding with that of its new owner.

Bezos’s ideas and preoccupations have quietly helped shape the newspaper, they said, and empowered its technology employees.

“Through a lot of conversations with Jeff, we’ve sort of absorbed some of this stuff by osmosis,” said Martin Baron, the paper’s editor.

“We now have an opportunity to ask him how things have worked at Amazon, for example. And he has a consumer obsession.”

They added that Bezos had made it clear that The Post’s broad strategy should shift toward expanding its national and international audience — in direct contrast to its previous shift to local news.

The Post claimed that it still valued coverage of local events, but Baron said many of his recent hires had been national reporters, with the Kindle app in mind.

A team of 16 people will rewrite headlines and articles to make them punchier, drawing a broader audience.

The Post’s ties to Amazon and Bezos are evident in its offices, said the NYT. Kindle Fire tablets sit alongside iPads. The newspaper’s executives, use phrases like “Day 1,” an Amazon idea that each day should be treated as if it were the company’s first.

New products are complete, Bezos has told Post staff members, when they start loving them. Executives are guided by him to “focus on what you can control.”

The app will be free for Kindle Fire owners for six months, and will then cost $1 for the next six months.

The app will be automatically added to certain Kindle Fire tablets as part of a software update. It will feature two editions each day, at 5am and 5pm - times when the company believes it will reach the most readers.

Russell Grandinetti, the Amazon executive who oversees Kindle, said the number of Kindle Fire users who would receive the app would be in the millions.

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