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Bezos Bundles New Washington Post App With Kindle Fire

Jeff Bezos owns both Amazon and The Washington Post, and he's planning to combine the two by bundling a new Post app with the new Kindle tablet.
Posted at 7:20 PM, Oct 06, 2014

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first bought The Washington Post around this time last year, everyone was wondering if he'd tie the two businesses together. Now we might have our answer: The Post could be getting a specialized app on Amazon's Kindle devices.

Businessweek first reported Monday the Post has been working on developing an app, dubbed "Project Rainbow" internally, that "will offer a curated selection of news and photographs from the daily newspaper in a magazine-style, tablet-friendly format."

Bezos plans to bundle a free version of the app with Amazon's newest Kindle Fire HDX tablets, which launch later this year. The app will eventually be made available on other Amazon, iOS and Android devices and will require a monthly fee.

According to Businessweek, this is all part of Bezos' plan to grow the Post's readership nationally. In May, the paper announced it would share its content with subscribers to almost 100 local newspapers around the country.

And GigaOM notes the idea makes sense for Amazon as well, by "giv[ing] Kindle Fire owners something different that comes pre-installed on their tablets — and something that costs Amazon fairly little."

But perhaps more importantly, "Project Rainbow" is the first big integration between Amazon and The Washington Post, a move most observers have been waiting for since the Amazon mogul bought the paper for $250 million.

Last week, both Politico and The New York Times published profiles of the Post after one year under Bezos. The pieces took wildly different tones — Politico blasted Bezos' "inability to radically transform the paper into an innovative digital product," while the Times praised the CEO for "financ[ing] excellence and stay[ing] out of the way."

D.C. blogger Simon Owens noted the two pieces had a common theme: "Bezos has not unleashed any kind of 'magic bullet' that will suddenly shift the paper's prospects in a radical way."

So is "Project Rainbow" the bullet we've all been waiting for? A VentureBeat writer is skeptical.

"Not only is there a plethora of news organizations willing to offer up their news coverage for free, but also there are plenty of digital magazine apps vying for consumer attention (Pulse, Flipboard, Zite, and News360, to name a few)."

Since acquiring the Post, Bezos has made some changes, including hiring 100 new staff members and cutting pension benefits.

This video includes images from Getty Images.