A budget-priced, WiFi-only version of Amazon.com’s popular Kindle eBook reader, dubbed Kindle With Special Offers, will be available May 3 for $114. There is one small catch: This version has not so special onscreen ads.
Selling online, and at Target and Best Buy stores, for $25 less than comparable standard-issue units, the advertising-supported grayscale eReader is identical to the current lowest-priced Kindle. However, screen savers sponsored by Buick, Olay and Visa, hawking $20 Amazon.com gift cards for $10, 50 percent discounts on Roku’s streaming player and Amazon MP3 album downloads for $1, will replace the portraits of famous authors. Small ads will also play across the bottom of the Kindle’s home screen.
Amazon execs promise that ads, which may be redeemed right from the device or via email offer, won’t be inserted into the books themselves. Still, opinions are torn as to whether the presence of advertising will open the doors for greater hardware subsidies (potentially allowing price drops or eventual free Kindles) or fewer features coupled with greater annoyance. In the meantime, Amazon is also offering a free Kindle app and site called AdMash that lets users vote for the best screen saver ads to become sponsored placements.