Amazon reportedly planning ad-subsidized Kindle Fire, could bring down price even more

May 23, 2012

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is the company’s best-selling device and already one of the cheapest tablets on the market. Its $199 price tag coupled with Amazon’s retail infrastructure has propelled it to become the No. 1 Android tablet in the U.S.

But if the price is still too high, you might be able to get hold of the Kindle Fire even cheaper before too long. According to a story from AdAge, Amazon is considering releasing an ad-supported version of the Kindle Fire that would help bring down the price of the tablet further. AdAge cites an unnamed source at an advertising agency that Amazon has pitched on the idea, and the retailer is reportedly offering to sell ads on the home screen of the device for about $600,000.

Amazon isn’t new to ad-supported hardware: It did the same thing with its Kindle e-readers. The report says Amazon would run customers’ ads for two months from its Special Offers feature, which sounds pretty much identical to the way it sells ads on its other Kindle products. Those ads helped bring the prices on Amazon’s e-reader devices to sub-$80 levels. Presumably, an ad-supported Kindle Fire could be made a fair amount cheaper than the version that’s currently available, and that would undoubtedly help get more Amazon tablets into more hands.

That’s if Amazon decides to release another version of the tablet, however, and it’s not necessarily clear that it will. The AdAge report quotes sources who say Amazon hasn’t decided whether to create a Kindle Fire specific to the ad plan, or to add those ads to tablets that have already been sold. That left some of the pitched advertisers a bit wary, since suddenly having your tablet turn into an advertising platform could be off-putting to Kindle Fire owners.

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Meanwhile, other rumors surrounding the tablet point to a larger size. Reuters has reported that Amazon is considering an 8.9-inch version of the Kindle Fire (the existing model measures 7 inches), which would bring it a little closer to the size of Apple’s iPad. The report didn’t include more details than that, however, and Amazon has refused to comment on the possibilities of either the ad-supported Kindle Fire or the larger version.

Though we don’t have anything official, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Amazon is looking to what worked with its other products in managing the Kindle Fire. The device so far has been a pretty stellar success, but it still lags far behind Apple’s iPad. Amazon has found a niche in the Android tab market and is doing a good job of exploiting it, but it seems like a foregone conclusion that the retailer would already be thinking about ways to expand its territory, and an ad-supported, cheaper Kindle Fire seems like a smart thing to do.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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