There is some very interesting news today in the tablet and e-reader device industry. First, Amazon will be opening up the Kindle as a development platform next month.

The new Kindle Development Kit gives developers access to programming interfaces, tools and documentation to build active content for Kindle–the #1 bestselling, most wished for, and most gifted product across all categories on Amazon. Developers can learn more about the Kindle Development Kit today at http://www.amazon.com/kdk/ and sign up to be notified when the limited beta starts next month.

Obviously, this is an interesting move as it makes an e-reader more of a portable computer. The second news item that has people drooling is the rumors of new features on the Apple tablet.

One person familiar with the matter said Apple has put significant resources into designing and programming the device so that it is intuitive to share. This person said Apple has experimented with the ability to leave virtual sticky notes on the device and for the gadget to automatically recognize individuals via a built-in camera.

Buried in both of these stories is the real answer behind all of this innovation. There is significant money to be made. First, a one-line mention of the Amazon revenue plans:

Amazon announced that it is inviting software developers to build and upload active content that will be available in the Kindle Store later this year.

In the Apple tablet story, we see what should be a familiar grouping of buy, iTunes and Internet:

People familiar with Apple’s plans say a central part of the new strategy is to populate as many Web sites as possible with ‘buy’ buttons, integrating iTunes transactions into activities like listening to Internet radio and surfing review Web sites.

As cool as the facial recognition may be, it really looks like it could just be a way for people to have more targeted advertisements and buy more from iTunes. They are throwing in the “virtual sticky note” feature as a way for the kids to easily remind mom or dad that they “really need to have” some other game or mp3.

Amazon has also realized the potential revenue stream of readily available digital stuff. They saw how important their digital books are to revenue, and adding in the fees for small applications is a simple and powerful revenue scheme. People have seen the success of the Apple iPhone app store and everyone wants a piece of the small transaction pie.

What Apple is doing is more interesting as it is targeting old media almost exclusively if the rumors about the tablet are true. A 10 inch screen can be used as a book, a newspaper or a magazine. It is also big enough for one person to watch a movie or television show, after a quick iTunes purchase of course. The potential revenue stream is enormous, and Apple realizes that. The tablet is not about revolutionizing computing, it is about taking over your living room, and your magazine and newspaper subscriptions.

In this case, Amazon is just trying to play catch up. E-readers have not made much of a foray into applications or even purchases of digital content outside of books. From that perspective, this can push e-readers more into tablet computing than a dedicated, single-function device. In any case, the innovation will cause the competition to escalate. If the Apple tablet is as amazing as the rumors make it sound, and if e-readers can make the transition to cheap tablets, 2010 could become the year of mobile computing from a direction nobody even thought about.

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