updated 06:20 pm EDT, Mon April 11, 2011
Amazon plans ad-sponsored Kindle for 114
Amazon up-ended the e-reader market on Monday with word of an ad-sponsored version of the Kindle. Called just the Kindle with Special Offers, it will have ads both on the bottom of the home page and on its idle screens. The new reader would drop the price by $25 over a Wi-Fi version and should ship both online and through Best Buy and Target on May 3.
Buick, JPMorgan Chase, Olay, and Visa would be some of the initial sponsors. It would be virtually identical in hardware to the Wi-Fi model. None of the books themselves will have ads, Amazon was keen to emphasize. Readers can have ad offers e-mailed to them and can fine-tune the preferences.
The move was explained by Kindle team lead Jay Marine as a way to expand the reach of the e-reader beyond its current audience. It will more likely serve as at least a competitive shot at Barnes & Noble's Nook Wi-Fi, which at $149 would now be $35 more expensive. Rivals like the Kobo eReader and Sony Reader Pocket Edition may also be hurt by the lower price.
It may also be a way to further distance the price of the Kindle from the iPad. Although Amazon has often insisted it's not directly trying to compete with Apple, it has lately attacked the iPad directly in TV ads. Many iPad owners also have Kindles but in some cases are buying instead of an e-reader or have no intention of buying one once they discover reading on the tablet.