Buyers of the new Amazon Kindle and Kindle Fire HD will be able to remove the advertising built into the devices for a fee of $15, Amazon has indicated.
The ads are pushed at user under the guise of ‘special offers’ that appear on the home and lock screens of the modified Android tablets and were included, Amazon said, to subsidise the relatively low price of the tablets.
Amazon appears to have changed its mind on the issue after media criticism about a lack of choice. Although the competitive price for the devices has met with praise as with any device the tablets are valued as highly personal; compelling consumers to view ads put there by the device maker risked making them seem impersonal.
Although the $15 release fee is aimed at US consumers the assumption is that the same facility will be extended to consumers in other countries including the UK for an equivalent fee, around £10.
Announced last week, the embedded advertising is not the only compromise consumers are asked to make when buying the Kindle Fire.
Although nominally based on Android 4.0, the new Kindles are built around the understanding that consumers choose from a subset of Android apps chosen by and downloaded through Amazon itself. As well as being a far smaller selection some popular apps are missing, mainly those from Google.
This is an Android tablet but it’s not like any other Android tablet, a sacrifice Amazon contends makes it more usable out of the box than standard tablets. It’s not clear how efficiently Amazon will handle updates to the apps it has included.
This has a secondary effect - apps already bought for other Android devices won’t carry over and will need to be re-purchased.
Techies have also criticised Amazon’s Silk browser for cloud-caching the sites users visit by default, which creates privacy concerns. This can apparently be turned off.