(image courtesy The Digital Reader)
There’s a fair amount of debate over the “Special Orders” Kindles. Most people find the ads unobtrusive, and even take advantage of the offers! On the other hand, if they’re driving you nuts, or if you bought an S.O. Kindle and didn’t realize it, Amazon does allow you to change your Kindle to a non-subsidized one. The only catch? You’ll need to pay up for the $30 subsidy difference.
This is a pretty clever way to handle potentially upset customers. Maybe someone gets annoyed with the special offers or they don’t like targeted ads, so Amazon gives them an easy-out. It’s also a slightly more wallet-friendly way to dip a toe into the Kindle waters. If $139 is too much, but you can swing $99, get the Special Offers Kindle and you can always opt out later. Sort of the Kindle equivalent of unlocking a cell phone.
Here’s the more interesting part here. Amazon can reverse the Special Orders setting; can they create it on a non-subsidized Kindle? It’s a brilliant plan if you think about it; Amazon reimburses you $30 and you opt-in to ads, where Amazon is getting a cut. And you have $30, which would likely go to books or something else on Amazon (come on-admit it, you’d totally spend the money on more books.)
Or consider this: now that Amazon has everyone comfortable with the idea of a subsidized Kindle, what if they subsidized it further? Imagine a 2-year Kindle contract. In exchange for the ads, you agree to keep your subsidized Kindle (and maybe buy a set number of books each year) for two years. Amazon gives you a Kindle for next to nothing as part of this deal. If you decide you want to sell your Kindle, upgrade early, etc., just go onto your Amazon account, pay the difference (which could decline over time like a cell phone contract) and move on.
Amazon has been very careful in how they rolled out the special offers. First they were only on wifi Kindles, then on 3G, now they are the “default” pricing for the whole Kindle line. It’s only a matter of time until they find a way to expand the program, and I could easily see a deeper subsidy as a lure to bring in more Kindle users!
What’s your take? Do you like the special offers? Would you opt into them if you could? Share your thoughts below!