updated 03:30 pm EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
Amazon touts Kindle use in education
On Wednesday, Amazon announced it was pushing to get its Kindle e-readers and tablet computers into the education sector, a move that will bring it into even stiffer competition with Apple, which has seen some successes in getting schools to look to its iPad as an educational tool. Amazon has been testing Kindles in kindergarten through 12th grade programs across the United States, and the company believes its services make the Kindle an ideal match for educators looking to manage content across devices.
As Reuters details, Amazon's new Whispercast feature is a major point of emphasis for the company in courting educators. Whispercast allows administrators to manage the content on devices, set up user accounts, group students by class and grade level, and limit what students can do with their devices. The feature would allow administrators to block Facebook and other sites, as well as to disable purchasing on devices.
Amazon views education as a potentially very lucrative market, and Apple's success in the arena is taken as an example of Amazon's potential. Apple sold over one million iPads to US educators in the second quarter of 2012, almost double its figures from the same quarter last year.
A group of educational publishers announced earlier this year that the adoption of digital textbooks could save schools $250 per student per year over physical texts. In order to make a big impact in the market, Amazon would likely have to offer some form of bulk discount for school districts. Currently, the company offers no such discount, but executives have hinted that one may be in the offing.