The idea isn’t a new one: sell a device/app for a lower sticker price based on the ad revenue you’ll be generating. This makes several popular apps (Tap Tap Revenge, Dungeon Defenders) actually free and is similar to how book sales help keep the Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color down to only $250 regular price. Well, Amazon is now taking the same principal and directly applying to the sales of their e-reader device. The ever popular Kindle will soon be available in the ad-supported (sound familiar app users?) form for $25 less than its ad-free brethren. Available at Best Buy and Target for $114, its the same e-reader experience with the added “benefits” of ads on both your screensaver and the home screen. They have confirmed there will be no ads on your books anywhere, but the screensaver looks annoying already.
Engadget mentions it and I’d like to bring it up again here: where is the option to turn the ads off by buying back that $25 at a later time. Most apps offer this functionality, and since there’s no physical difference between the ad supported one and the regular, it should be a simple software download to disable them. This seems like a no brainer, especially coming from a company known for its excellent advertising, but there seems no intent for Amazon to let people do that just yet. They very well could in the future, and it certainly seems logical. The other point I’m interested in is if this is just a software “feature”, it seems inevitable to me that some clever hacker will find a way to disable it. Whether that kills some kind of functionality or perhaps there is some sort of hardware linked to it could be a possibility.
Selling hardware cheaper through ad sales is an interesting idea. While similar to selling an ad-supported app, apps are exceedingly more disposable than any hardware. This is especially true, I think, in the relatively “new” market of e-readers. Most people who bought the original 3G Kindle probably see no reason to update, and they really don’t have one. Kindle hasn’t really changed much on the hardware side of things since its origin. It doesn’t have to. But if they really are locked down to looking at ads for the entirety of their device’s lifetime, I really think Average Joe is gonna be willing to spring the extra $25 not to have them. $25 in the grand scope of things is not enough of a price cut. Maybe signing on some bigger names for advertising could help them bring it down. Getting into the sub-$100 zone would be killer for the Kindle. That’s practically dirt cheaper and insures more people will be getting to their Kindle Book Store as well. It would be a hard sell to me to save only $25 and have my homescreen forever marred by ads till my device dies.
Applying this method of selling a device with the intention of making money later could also have some far reaching effects if it takes root. There are several companies internationally that sell phones with permanent ads on them off contract for dirt cheap prices. If looking at ads is what gets me a Xoom or some other high-end Honeycomb tablet under $400, then I say hell yeah. Until technology catches up, tablet are going to be expensive. Apple is using the last two decades of pipelining resources to make the components of its iPad dirt cheap and any Android tablet is going to be hard pressed to beat it in the price-quality department. Ads are Google’s strong point, this could be a fantastic new way for them to get Google Search (and thus their Ads) out into the tablet foray in a cheap, effective way. This requires no new hardware and could easily be integrated on Google’s end before it even gets to manufacturers. As much as I hate ads, I’ll gladly suck it up for a kick-ass Android tablet under $400. Why $400? Well, I’d prefer more like $350 (especially as the technology advances), but $400 is less than the iPad by $100. Yes, that is the main reason. Apple created the tablet market and started this craze. If you can build an even decent tablet for $400, you’ve got it made. Using Google’s huge ad sense (pun intended) and coupling that to an OS built around their search could be a money saving match in heaven.
If Amazon enables you to turn the ads off eventually, I think this idea could really take hold and maybe change the tablet landscape in favor of Google’s Honeycomb army. Of course, Apple may just as well see the opportunity and jump on it, but let’s hope the little guys can get a jump on them this time. Good luck Amazon, don’t mess this up. There could be a lot riding on it.
You stay classy, World Wide Web.
AMAZON INTRODUCES NEW KINDLE FAMILY MEMBER: KINDLE WITH SPECIAL OFFERS FOR $114
$25 less for the same #1 bestselling latest-generation Kindle plus special offers and sponsored screensavers
Special offers in the initial weeks include $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card, $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store, and a $100 Gift Card with a new Amazon Rewards Visa Card
Amazon also introduces “AdMash” – the new free Kindle app and website where customers vote for the most attractive sponsored screensavers
SEATTLE-April 11, 2011-(NASDAQ: AMZN)-Millions of people are reading on Kindle, Kindle has more 5-star reviews than any other product on Amazon, and in just five months the latest-generation Kindle became the bestselling product in the 16-year history of Amazon.com. Today, Amazon introduced a new member of the Kindle family – Kindle with Special Offers for only $114. Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle, plus special offers and sponsored screensavers. Kindle special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen. Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members-$114 Kindle with Special Offers, $139 Kindle, and $189 Kindle 3G-atwww.amazon.com/kindle. Kindle with Special Offers is now available for pre-order to customers in the U.S. and will ship on May 3.
“We’re working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle – and it’s only $114. Kindle is the best deal in consumer electronics anywhere in the world.”
Buick, Olay (Procter & Gamble), Visa, and Amazon.com Reward Visa Card (Chase) are sponsoring the first series of screensavers specially-designed for Kindle’s high-contrast, no glare electronic ink display (for screensaver examples, visitwww.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers). Examples of deals that will be delivered directly to Kindle with Special Offers devices in the initial weeks include:
* $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card
* $6 for 6 Audible Books (normally $68)
* $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)
* $10 for $30 of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop
* Free $100 Amazon.com Gift Card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa Card (normally $30)
* Buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card and get $10 Amazon.com credit
* 50% off Roku Streaming Player (normally $99)
To make sure customers don’t miss any of the offers, a full list of active offers will be available from the menu of Kindle with Special Offers at any time.
Amazon is also introducing “AdMash” – the free Kindle app and website where customers choose the most attractive and engaging display advertisements that will become Kindle sponsored screensavers. Kindle’s sponsored screensavers are specially-designed display advertisements that take advantage of Kindle’s high-contrast, no-glare electronic-ink display. Before these advertisements can be presented to Kindle customers, they are first previewed by customers using AdMash. Users are presented with pairs of sponsored screensaver candidates and asked to select which one they prefer. Screensavers with the most preferred votes qualify to become sponsored screensavers. The AdMash Kindle app will launch in the coming weeks – for a preview, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers.
In addition, Kindle with Special Offers customers can give Amazon hints on the style and types of sponsored screensavers they would like to see. From the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com, customers can use Kindle Screensaver Preferences to indicate whether they like to see more or less screensavers that include elements such as landscapes and scenery, architecture, travel images, photography, and illustrations. Together, AdMash voting and Kindle Screensaver Preferences help Amazon present sponsored screensavers that customers find attractive and engaging. For screenshots of Kindle screensavers, AdMash and Kindle Screensaver Preferences, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers.
“The opportunity to offer custom-designed Kindle screensavers was a natural fit for Buick because Kindle is such a unique device surrounded by a community of intelligent, passionate people,” said Craig Bierley, Director of Advertising and Promotions, Buick. “Kindle’s high contrast e-ink display eliminates glare and is perfect for emotionally engaging and impactful brand imagery, allowing us to connect with Kindle readers wherever and whenever.”
Kindle with Special Offers includes all the same features that helped make the third-generation Kindle the #1 bestselling product in the history of Amazon.com:
* Paper-like Pearl electronic-ink display, no glare even in bright sunlight
* 8.5 ounce body for hours of comfortable reading with one hand
* Up to one month of battery life with wireless off eliminates battery anxiety
* Kindle Store with over 900,000 books – largest selection of the most popular books
* Seamless integration with free “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” Kindle apps for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android-based devices
Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members-$114 Kindle with Special Offers, $139 Kindle, and $189 Kindle 3G-at www.amazon.com/kindle. Advertisers and agencies interested in learning more about Kindle sponsorship opportunities can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.