If an advertiser offered you a one-off US$25 payment in return for being exposed to advertising, would you take it? That's essentially the deal being offered by Amazon with its new ad-supported Kindle. The device is the same as Amazon's third-generation, Wi-Fi only Kindle but retails for $25 less and comes with "special offers" and, apparently not wanting to scare people off with that dirty word advertising, "sponsored screensavers." Ads won't interrupt your reading, but will act as the device's full screen screensaver and will also appear along the bottom of the home screen.
Visa, Olay, Buick and Chase will be the first advertisers to be featured in the "sponsored screensavers" at launch, but Amazon also plans to let users vote on the ads they would prefer to see using a service called AdMash. AdMash, which comes as a Kindle app and an upcoming website, lets users preview pairs of ads and select which one they prefer. The ads that score the most votes will then qualify to appear as sponsored screensavers. Not sure how many people are willing to spend time playing ad exec but Amazon will find out.
Likely to be more useful is the ability to set your screensaver preferences to display the style and types of ads you prefer. Users can select whether they'd like more or fewer ads that include elements such as landscapes and scenery, architecture, travel images, nature, family/kids, humor, photography, and illustrations.
Also designed to lure customers are "special offers" sent directly to the Kindle. Initial examples, which are largely Amazon specific, include a $10 for a $20 Amazon.com gift card, $6 for six Audible Books, $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 store, $10 for $30 of gear from the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop, and $100 Amazon.com gift card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa Card. The only non-Amazon offer is 50 percent off a Roku Streaming Player.
The Kindle with Special Offers will ship on May 3 with a retail price of US$114, with Amazon taking pre-orders for U.S. customers now. There's no word on whether the company plans to release an ad-supported 3G Kindle in the future but if the Wi-Fi only Kindle with Special Offers proves a success there's a chance we could see not only such a device from Amazon, but other devices such as cut-price ad-supported tablets, from other companies.
We'd like to get an idea of how many people are open to not only to an ad-supported Kindle, but to the idea of an ad-supported device pricing model in general. So vote in the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.