The Kindle is still the best-selling e-book reader on the market -- and the best-selling product in Amazon.com's 16-year history. Now the e-commerce giant is moving to get the device into even more hands with a discounted ad-supported model.
Amazon just rolled out the newest addition to the growing Kindle family, Kindle with Special Offers. Essentially, Kindle with Special Offers is the same as the traditional Kindle in every technical respect, but it includes special advertised offers and sponsored screensavers.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the move is the company's attempt to "make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one." If you are willing to look at a few ads with your e-reading experience, you can get this model for $114. That compares to $139 for the non-ad-supported Kindle and $189 for the Kindle 3G. The new device will ship on May 3.
Amazon Subsidizes Kindle
What types of ads will you see while you are reading on your ad-supported Kindle? Ads for cars from Buick, ads for Olay products from Proctor & Gamble, and ads for Visa, among others. These companies are sponsoring the first series of screensavers designed for Kindle's electronic ink display.
"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 at Buick. He said Kindle's display is perfect for emotionally engaging and impactful brand imagery that will help the brand connect with readers.
Kindle with Special Offers will also offer Amazon deals like $10 for a $20 Amazon gift card, $6 for six Audible Books (normally $68), $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store, $10 for $30 of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop, a free $100 Amazon gift card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa card, and 50 percent off a Roku streaming player.
Not Cheap Enough
Although consumers are hungry for discounts, as evidenced by the success of coupon sites like Groupon, Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, isn't convinced that most consumers will opt for Kindle with Special Offers over the non-ad-supported version.
"The cost of Kindle without ads is $139. The ad-supported version -- right now -- will cost $114," Sterling noted. "For the additional $25, I -- and most consumers, probably -- would pay to avoid the ads. If Amazon is serious about subsidizing the cost of Kindle and getting it into more consumers' hands, it needs to go below $100."
Amazon also announced the pending launch of a free Kindle app and web site where consumers can choose display advertisements to become Kindle-sponsored screensavers. Dubbed 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.