In the US, Amazon will soon start selling a cheaper version of its hero product, the Kindle. This e-reader will be $25 less than the regular Kindle and look exactly the same – until you switch it on, that is.
The new Kindle, called “Kindle with Special Offers”, will carry advertisements.
I’m not talking about ads buried within the pages of its books, and we certainly won’t start reading novels where all the characters drink Coca Cola and drive Toyotas.
Instead, what we’re going to see are ‘sponsored screensavers’ that Amazon says won’t interrupt reading. Oh, and a small ad at the bottom of the homepage too.
Some of the ads will be from third parties, while others will be special offers from Amazon, such as discounted albums in its MP3 store, or cheaper swimwear from Amazon Swim Shop (a US-only online shopping service).
Ad-rich Kindle isn’t anything new
When I first read about Amazon’s ad-rich device, I felt it signalled another milestone on our way to an unavoidable dystopian future. But then I moved my mind to all the other times I had tolerated ads to get a free or reduced-cost service.
I have a number of free games on my iPhone that sporadically throw up the occasional ad for me to ignore. And what about music? Spotify currently offers free music listening if you’re willing to put up with audio ads (although its terms will soon change). Is Amazon’s “Special Offers” Kindle any different to either of these?
In many respects ads on gadgets reflect TV broadcasting in the UK, as we pay a TV licence to fund ad-free BBC channels. In fact, Amazon arguably offers a better option, since we don’t have a choice about whether we pay for a TV licence. But with the Kindle we will be able to choose between paying more for an ad-free reading experience, or tolerate interruptions and pay less.
Don’t be afraid of in-content ads
So really, I shouldn’t have been irked when I first read about the new Kindle, since many of the free services I currently use are at the expense of ads. Indeed, the cheaper Kindle may come with benefits other than a reduced price – owners may become privy to special deals that customers with the ad-free Kindle can’t access.
The bottom line is that ads don’t really bother me – except when I’m determined to see a late night film through to its conclusion and my eyes are beginning to close.
So upon reflection, I’d consider paying less for a Kindle with Special Offers if it launched in the UK. But the moment product placement starts cropping up in classic novels will be the moment that I’ll draw the line.
Would you put up with ads for cheaper gadgets?
No, I prefer my gadgets to be ad-free (52%, 151 Votes)
Maybe, it depends on how intrusive they are (31%, 90 Votes)
Yes, if it brings down the cost of a product (16%, 47 Votes)
Total Voters: 288