I’ve been giving some thought to the implications of the still fairly new Kindle w/Special Offers as far as directed marketing goes, especially in light of the increasingly common speculation about Kindle Tablet PCs. The fact that this made such a splash, both in terms of controversy and in its success, only serves to emphasize the importance of the concept they are dealing with. It seems like Amazon is in a good position to capture the attention of huge numbers of deal seekers, and that there is some reason to believe that this is exactly their intent in the near future.
We know that people get excited about a good deal, even when it is on something they don’t necessarily need. The site Groupon has become amazingly popular recently for providing exactly this sort of deal. You sign up, log in, grab the deal of the day in your area, and likely end up making a purchase that would otherwise either have never occurred to you or been dismissed as wasteful. They basically rely on the fact that they can localize the deals to the point where hundreds of communities have something interesting going on in their area at any given time. It isn’t exactly a new concept, but it can be powerful when properly executed.
Amazon is in a position to take a swing at something like this from multiple angles at once. The most obvious approach is through the newest Kindle. You have to have an Amazon account to use it in the first place. Amazon has, as a result, potentially detailed information about the purchasing habits of just about any of these customers and can use something along the lines of their recommendation system to personalize deals to individual tastes. This is on top of the more widely ranging deal options. Already we’ve seen things like the $20 Gift Card for $10, which you can’t really go wrong with but which also guarantees Amazon a sale that might not otherwise have taken place. They also made the acquisition of popular deal of the day site Woot.com last June that offers a framework for even more impulsive buying opportunities. All of this is in addition to the Gold Box Deals, sales, and otherwise plentiful discount opportunities to be found on any given day on the Amazon.com website itself. There’s a lot going on here.
If at all possible, I expect to see this concept extended to the upcoming Kindle Tablet as part of the most basic experience of using the site, whether it focuses on media, app sales, or simply referrals. The success of such an effort would be exactly the thing to allow Amazon to undercut the competition on purchase prices without putting themselves at a disadvantage. While I don’t expect it will be nearly this amazing, I doubt anybody would mind getting the occasional special offer screensaver on their Kindle Tablet if it means that they get iPad-like functionality for less than the cost of a Nook Color.
Not too long ago there was a fair amount of debate over whether or not customers could possibly accept a version of the Kindle which incorporated advertising. As it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes. Apparently while there may be any number of knee-jerk reactions to connecting advertising and the reading experience, nobody gets all that upset in practice so long as the whole thing is handled subtly and with the intention of keeping it unobtrusive. This is good news for Amazon at the moment and might be great news for Kindle enthusiasts in the long term. It all depends on how the trend holds up.
The fact that you can find the Kindle w/ Special Offers at the top of the Best Sellers list works as a proof of concept as far as ad-supported Kindles are concerned. Customers are willing to buy it. Their biggest complaint so far seems to be the fact that they had to. You see, many consumers feel that if they are going to be providing Amazon with revenue from advertising on an ongoing basis, it is wrong for them to expect an initial investment on the part of the end-user. There is a certain amount of justification to this. It is definitely possible to see that being the goal, given projections that the Kindle may soon be a free or nearly free device. At the moment, it still needs to prove itself as a worthwhile place for advertisers to buy time on. Let’s assume that this works out and Amazon has no problems finding companies that would love nothing more than to advertise to readers around the world. This opens the door for not only the free Kindle, but highly affordable Kindle Tablet devices subsidized by advertising.
There is the concern, of course, that this could prove too tempting a success and result in an intrusive ad presence in eBooks themselves. I would call this unlikely. In an earlier interview on the topic, Jeff Bezos mentioned that part of the reason they are choosing to keep the advertising completely separate from the reading experience, besides simply the undesirability of such an immersion destroying addition, is that maintaining the separation improves the impact of the ads when they are shown. Simply put, more ads would mean less impact per ad rather than more overall impact. If the advertisers are not seeing results, the whole endeavor flops.
So far we’ve seen Amazon do a great job of anticipating the needs of the customer. They offer the most full-featured, affordable dedicated eReader on the market in the form of the Kindle and now they are selling it at what is almost certainly less than cost. If they sometimes turn to unorthodox methods to provide customers with the best value for their money rather than following the most vocal demands and desires of the moment, so much the better. I think there will be a time when the Kindle w/ Special Offers is the only one they continue to offer as a dedicated eReader, but I also see it costing next to nothing by that point. Any thoughts?
Yay! Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) listened to its customers, and has now added the Kindle 3G with Special offers to the Kindle family. I’ve seen a lot of comments about this on the Kindle reviews on Amazon’s site, and the Amazon Kindle Facebook page.
Amazon is offering the 3G Kindle with special offers for $25 less at $164. It includes all of the perks of the Kindle 3G with the addition of sponsored screensavers and ads. When I was looking at the overview of the new Kindle, I noticed how much the battery life has improved. Three weeks with wireless on, and 2 months with it off. That is awesome.
After Amazon’s announcement, there were complaints about how people have just bought the Kindle 3G. If you have bought a Kindle within the last 30 days, you may still send it back and get the newer special offers version.
Now, is the Kindle DX next in line? On another note, it will be interesting to see how the tablets Amazon is supposedly working on will affect the Kindle DX.
Wow, owners of the new Special Offers Kindle can gets some pretty sweet deals through Amazon (NASDAQ: Amazon). One of the current offers is, when you order select bestsellers or classics for your Kindle, you can get a $10 Amazon.com credit.
The additional catch is that you have to use your Amazon visa card. Now I will say this, I recently got one, and have heard great things about it. You get points with your purchases, and can get extra points for purchases from Amazon. Once you accrue enough points, you can redeem them for amazon.com credit and many other goodies. So far, there haven’t been any annoying fees or promotions that most credit card companies push.
Some of the bestsellers include the recent hit Water for Elephants, The Hunger Game series and Michael Lewis’s The Big Short. You’ll also find classics from old favorites such as Mark Twain, the Bronte sisters, and Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables).
Check out this page for a complete list of bestsellers and classics that you can choose from.
The current offer goes until May 21st. Happy reading!
There are more options than there used to be when thinking about which Kindle it is that would suit you the best. You can go with anything from the $379 Kindle DX to the $114 Kindle with Special Offers and you are certain to get the best value for your money, but that doesn’t really help much with the decision. Since the ad supported Kindle is the newest and most easily misunderstood of the line, let’s look at that one a little closer.
The best comparison is between the new Kindle and the older Kindle WiFi. Mostly this is because they are exactly the same thing. This is probably already common knowledge, but it’s worth reiterating. The Kindle with Special Offers is just a Kindle WiFi with advertisements thrown into a couple places that have nothing to do with the reading experience. You will even eventually get a chance to choose ahead of time what you find least objectionable in an ad using the soon to be released AdMash service from Amazon.
Now, plenty of people have been offended by this concept. A lot of the objections have centered on the popular opinion that advertising has no place around books. It’s a little bit difficult to understand this point, given that most paperbacks will already have lists of other books by the publisher or even preview chapters for future books in the last few pages, but it’s a point that gets brought up a lot. To me, this is a lot like getting upset that the local Borders has up banners advertising an upcoming sale. If the ads don’t actually show up while you read, you’re not too likely to notice them. Even the ones that are there while browsing your library are small and unobtrusive to the point of being almost unnoticed.
The other big objection that comes up time after time is to the fact that you have to pay for the device at all. After all, if Amazon is making money off of selling ad space then why should you have to pay for the hardware in the first place? This one is a bit more understandable, but it’s a bit premature. I could definitely see the Kindle becoming a completely free device in the future based on the sales of ads, but it is still an unproven money-maker for Amazon and it just wouldn’t make sense to give anything away yet. As it is, you get a chance at some cool coupons, you save $25, and you aren’t stuck looking at an endless procession of author portraits. Honestly, it can’t really be more annoying than most of those, anyway.
As always, no matter which option you go with you’ll be getting a great reading experience. It’s just a matter of the little details relating to the shopping and shelf-browsing that will be different. My personal take is that you can’t really go wrong getting the Kindle with Special Offers because there’s never a reason to complain about saving $25 and you’ll miss the majority of the ads anyway just by closing your case. It’s all a matter of where you choose to place your priorities.