Bezos makes his mark on Washington Post with Kindle app
A new app will deliver The Washington Post to some Amazon Kindle tablet owners for free. It is the first formal collaboration between the two companies since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Post for $250 million last year.
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — In recent months, The Washington Post has been worried about reducing cognitive overhead. The phrase, borrowed from its new owner, billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, refers to the number of decisions or actions readers must make before getting what they want.
The principle was a driving force behind Amazon’s one-click buying system. And it is one of the guiding ideas for an app introduced Thursday that will deliver the Post to some Amazon Kindle tablet owners for free. It is the first formal collaboration between the two companies since Bezos bought The Post for $250 million last year.
The new app, with preloaded stories, pictures and even advertisements, was designed in close collaboration with Bezos, said Shailesh Prakash, the Post’s chief technology officer.
“We talked to him constantly,” Prakash said, describing feedback Bezos gave to developers. “He’s our most active beta tester.”
The app, which was designed to reduce the noise of the Web to something as streamlined as a print publication, will be automatically added to certain Kindle Fire tablets as part of a software update. It will feature two editions each day, at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, when the company believes it will reach the most readers.
The app will be free for Kindle Fire owners for six months, and will then cost a dollar for the next six months. A version of the app will be available for Android and iOS operating systems next year, at $3.99 a month.
Russell Grandinetti, a senior vice president at Amazon who oversees the Kindle, declined to specify the number of Kindle Fire users who would receive the new app but said it was in the millions.
Post executives and technologists said Wednesday that the app represents the melding of the company’s culture with that of Bezos. His ideas and preoccupations have quietly helped shape the newspaper, they said, and empowered its technologists.
“Through a lot of conversations with Jeff, we’ve sort of absorbed some of this stuff by osmosis,” said Post editor Martin Baron. “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 growing its national and international audience — in direct contrast to its previous mission of narrowing its focus to local news.
The Post’s ties to Amazon and Bezos are evident in its offices. Kindle Fire tablets sit by iPads. Prakash, his team and 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 Bezos to “focus on what you can control.”