We've seen how the ad-supported model has take off in some areas. Apple's App Store, for example, is chock full of versions of games and other apps that offer a free download in exchange for putting up with some advertising. If you don't like seeing the ads, then you can pay the regular price for the app and skip the advertising. Which brings me to the press release from Amazon that showed up in my e-mail yesterday, announcing the release of "Kindle With Special Offers."
Currently, the Kindle Wi-Fi retails for $139. That's certainly a lot cheaper than a few years ago, when an original Kindle would have set you back $399. But if $139 is still too steep, Amazon is offering the chance to shave that price down to $114 with its Kindle With Special Offers. The catch is that the discount comes courtesy of advertising. Your actual reading won't be disrupted, but the screensaver displayed by the e-reader when not in use will be "sponsored" by an advertiser. At launch, partners include Buick, Olay, Visa and Chase. In case you're worried about always seeing a big bottle of skin cream every time you pick up your Kindle, Amazon is offering Kindle With Special Offers owners the opportunity to have some say in what kind of advertising they's like to see through screensaver preferences. Amazon will also be blasting special offers directly to these devices. Among the examples noted for the initial weeks of release are a $20 Amazon.com gift card for $10, 50% off a Roku Streaming Player and $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store.
Is it worth saving $25 to subject yourself to advertising? It's not like Amazon is forcing this on its customers; the regular, add-free Kindle is still available if advertising offends you. But Amazon is betting that inching ever closer to that $100 ceiling for a new e-reader is going to bring even more people onto the platform.