Amazon is making its popular Kindle e-reader more affordable for anyone to enjoy as long as they can put up with the occasional advertisement. The hardware is identical to the standard $139 model, but the new Kindle with "Special Offers" shaves $25 (18%) off that price down to $114 in exchange for showing you some publicity. It's worth noting that these ads aren't popping up in the middle of reading a book -- they're just replacing the Kindle's screen saver while the device is idle and a small strip at the bottom of the home screen. For many, that will be a fair trade off.
Some of the sample deals in the press release included: $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Cards, $6 for 6 Audible Books (valued at $68), $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store, and 50% off Roku Streaming Player. Clicking on a deal via the five-way controller will generally trigger an email with the offer, but some deals can be redeemed right from the Kindle. A full list of active offers will be available from the menu of Kindle with Special Offers at any time.
Amazon also introduced a Kindle app called AdMash that will allow users to vote on the most attractive and engaging display advertisements. The most popular ads will be more likely to appear as sponsored screensavers.
Although $99 would have been a much better psychological price point for the Kindle that doesn't mean it won't get there eventually if the initiative is successful. Amazon still has to see how well buyers respond to the ad-supported device, advertisers have to measure the reach and effectiveness of their campaigns, and it remains to be seen if people won't just hack the device to get rid of ads while paying the discounted price.
Kindle customers who dont embrace the idea can still purchase an ad-free Wi-Fi only Kindle for $139 or a model with 3G wireless for $189. What do you think? Is the $25 discount and promise of sweet Amazon deals good enough to get you on board? And as a gadget buyer, would you like to see more ad-subsidized devices from other manufacturers?