Amazon To Allow Ad Opt-Out On New Kindle Fires… For $15 Fee

Just like the least-expensive versions of the current Kindle e-readers, Amazon’s recently announced updates to the Kindle Fire tablet line will have “special offer” ads as screen savers, as a way to subsidize the devices’ lower retail prices. But while the earlier e-readers were sold specifically as “Kindle with Special Offers” at the discounted price, allowing customers to purchase the slightly more expensive version if they chose, the only way to get around the new Kindle Fire special offers is to buy the device and then pay a fee.

“We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out,” Amazon tells the Wall Street Journal. “We’re happy to offer customers the choice.”

So rather than sell a version of the Kindle Fire with ads and one without, the company says that users can buy the item at the discounted price and then pay the $15 to remove the ads.

The current special offer version of the Kindle retails for $20 less than the ad-free iteration.

We want to know what the Consumerist hive-mind thinks about this deal. If Amazon were to only release one version, would you rather pay higher retail and have the option to get a discount by allowing the ads? Or do think the default should be the special offer version?

And is Amazon missing out on a better way to get rid of the ads? What if, rather than simply charging an extra $15, users were allowed to opt out of the ads once they purchased a certain dollar amount in apps, music, books, movies, etc., from Amazon?

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    A question: Does Amazon make more money off of selling the
    Kindle or through the sale of ads over the life of the product?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      I’m guessing they plan on making their money by selling ebooks and other tchachke to Kindle owners.

    • frank64 says:

      The CEO said they want to make money on the sales, not on the device. Apple goes both ways on this.

      • Anachronism says:

        I don’t think your “Apple goes both ways on this” statement is accurate. I can’t think of any product on the Apple line that is not either the most expensive or close to it in the category. Ever hear of the phrase “Apple tax?” Apple tends to make very good products, but I don’t think they sell anything at a price that doesn’t have a profit margin. I think some products have had a lower margin than others (I think the Iphone 4 and the retina diplay did not have a lot of profit built in on initial release), but they are all priced at a point that has at least a little profit of fthe bat, which grows as the economies of scale are established and component costs come down.

        Apple and Nintendo are pretty well known as two electronics companies that have NEVER subscribed to selling a product at cost/for a loss and making it up on software. They both have always sought to make sure they make money on each unit sold.

  2. rdclark says:

    Kindle Fires are not stand-alone gadgets, they’re retail portals. Advertising is part of the ambience.

    Given that, $15 seems reasonable as an opt-out fee — it’s much less than it was for the e-ink Kindles — and probably still not worth paying if the ads are as non-intrusive as they’ve been in the past.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    $15 seems a reasonable fee to remove ads for life. We’ve already read here that Kindle Fires are subsidized anyway so the purpose of the device is to sell other things.

  4. MikeB says:

    Just wanted to advise anyone thinking of going with Plymouth Rock Assurance that they may want to think again. My wife and I recently changed over to Arbella since we felt like we were getting hosed with Plymouth Rock’s rates.

    Turns out we were getting hosed, by almost 800/a year, so we moved over and canceled our policy. Recently I was told that we had to pay a “penalty” for leaving prior to being with them another year. As a sales professional and consumer, this is complete crap! Provide a product at an unfair rate and then hit people for more money when they decide to choose something else?

  5. MikeB says:

    Just wanted to advise anyone thinking of going with Plymouth Rock Assurance that they may want to think again. My wife and I recently changed over to Arbella since we felt like we were getting hosed with Plymouth Rock’s rates.

    Turns out we were getting hosed, by almost 800/a year, so we moved over and canceled our policy. Recently I was told that we had to pay a “penalty” for leaving prior to being with them another year. As a sales professional and consumer, this is complete crap! Provide a product at an unfair rate and then hit people for more money when they decide to choose something else?

  6. SpeakR40Dead says:

    It is just how we are living in a new marketing model. We buy heavily subsidized products and then pay more to get rid of the subsidies.

  7. Banished to the Corner says:

    I kinda like this idea, and I think most people would also. Paying a fee for a service we want is fine, being forced to pay a fee for a service we don’t want is what makes us crazy.

  8. nishioka says:

    $15 is such a small amount of money that I’m surprised Amazon even bothers at all.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Um, well when you consider the number of Kindle Fires that it sells…

      I can’t find any definitive numbers, but it’s safe to say that at least 10 million original Kindle Fires have been sold.

      10 million times $15 is $150 million.

      I’d say that’s worth bothering with.

      • nishioka says:

        Right, but the article quotes an Amazon exec as saying “very few people choose to opt out” – so the impact is far less than 10 units * $15.

        • nishioka says:

          10 million units.*

        • mgchan says:

          Amazon originally didn’t want to bother with it, probably because people still bought the special offer Kindles rather than paying $20 extra for the ad-free version. But then Consumerist posted an article saying Amazon is evil and forcing ads down the consumers throats so they make a token gesture that really doesn’t matter to them either way but saves them the hassle of dealing with the press.

          Even if they said “buy $25 worth of products and we’ll remove the ads” people would complain that Amazon is forcing them to buy their products, or else suffer the horrors of the ads.

        • George4478 says:

          All of the original Kindle Fires were ad-free, so using those numbers as a source of opt-in/out stats are useless. The Kindle e-reader had opt-in/out versions.

          If I ever replace my Kindle Fire (totally ad-free for $139) I would gladly pay the $15 to keep it ad-free.

  9. Abradax says:

    “the only way to get around the new Kindle Fire special offers is to buy the device and then pay a fee.

    Or spend about 30 seconds on rootzwiki or xda-developers and turn your fire into a full fledged tablet.

    • Boiled for your sins says:

      Just what I was going to bring up. Love xda!

    • George4478 says:

      I am curious about that. If I root my Fire do I lose all the built-in benefits from Amazon, i.e. streaming video, automatic connection to my Amazon ebook/app library that I’ve built up over the past year, etc?

      I got a Fire not because I wanted a ‘tablet’, but because I wanted a ‘tablet that gives me these Amazon features’. I would rather pay $15 than lose all those.

      • Abradax says:

        I rooted a buddy’s Kindle Fire.
        All he had to do was download the Kindle software for Android and he got access to all of his stuff back, but now can do so much more.

  10. kingofmars says:

    I don’t mind paying less for a product and having the option to get rid of ads. I actually like the ads on my kindle touch. Sometimes I take advantage of them but most of the time I like not having the same default screen savers when I shut it down.

  11. framitz says:

    There are more and more choices every month. I see no reason to purchase a product that bombards me with advertising.
    I can wait, my rooted Nook Color is fine for now.

  12. EP2012 says:

    Amazon really sets a precedence by including ads with the device… I’ll avoid amazon kindles like the plague and opt for “untainted” devices instead.

    • MrMongerty says:

      Well, they are subsidizing devices (and passing the savings on to you).

      Do you only go for no contract cell phones, or sites that don’t have ads on them? It is a negative only if they did not offer the devices at such low prices (or give you a way to buy out).

      • EP2012 says:

        I don’t get mandatory ads on my phone and ad-supported sites are FREE. If the kindle was free, then I wouldn’t complain, but they are including ads to the device… imagine if your fridge played an audio ad every time you opened it.

        • NotEd says:

          There are no mandatory ads on your cell phone because you are paying for the hardware as subsidized by your contact with the cell company for a set period of time.
          Ad supported web sites are not free, they are ad supported. They sell ads to support the cost of developing and maintaining the site and you are not getting physical hardware from them.

          Neither case is the same as buying an ereader, where you are not locked into a contract. If Amazon sells the hardware cheaper by subsidizing the cast with ads, then gives you the option to forgo that susidy by paying a little etra out of pocket that seems completely reasonable to me. It would be similiar to buying a cell-phone unlocked or at a non=contract price. You pay up front, rather than letting the difference pay for itself in another way over time.

          • Pre-Existing Condition says:

            While not exactly ads, AT&T tends to put apps that can’t be deleted on their phones like AT&T Navigator and Blockbuster.

          • George4478 says:

            >>Ad supported web sites are not free, they are ad supported. They sell ads to support the cost of developing and maintaining the site and you are not getting physical hardware from them.

            Did you truly not understand his comment? Ad-supported websites ARE free to the user. He was not saying that ad-supported websites are totally free of any and all costs from every possible source to the developer, owner, web-hosting company, and any other entity in existence.

  13. Anachronism says:

    I own a Kindle Keyboard 3g with special offers, and love it. The ads are totally unobtrusive, and it was well worth the cost savings.

    I almost bought a Kindle Fire, but then the Google Nexus 7 came out, and the feature set was no contest. The just-announced Kindle Fire HD tablets seem very neat, but for the 7″, I think the Nexus probably edges it. It will be interesting to see how the 3G Fire matches up to the Ipad, as the price of that one is very much in line with Apple.

    Anyways, one thing I have noticed about my Kindle ads is they contain coupons MUCH LESS often. When I first got the kindle, most ads had coupons, and I used many of them, now, they are much less frequent, and the ads are commonly for movies or new book releases with no discounts.

  14. Red Cat Linux says:

    Cute.

    If I were in the market for a new Kindle Fire, I’d wager that people would root the device just to ‘opt out’ for free.

    The thing about opting out, rather than opting in, is that it leaves a bad taste. In this case, that bad taste is made worse.

    You’ve bought a product that now comes with “offers” that you don’t want. To get rid of the thing you never wanted in the first place, you’ll have to pay $15.

    It’s one thing if you have a choice, and you’re willing to pony up the extra $20 for a non-ad device, but human nature will detest having to pay for the opt out if it comes pre-loaded, and that’s what Amazon is hoping.

  15. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Well I wanted one, but not now. Sorry, Amazon.

  16. shovelDriver says:

    So what happens at the end of the first . . . year ? Do you have to pay again to stop the ads? And what does the “contract” say about price increases? About changes which require you to view the ads for so many seconds – or worse, to completion, before you can view your content?

    Another solution: Root the device and edit the hosts file.

  17. daemonaquila says:

    This is a scam – if they’re going to sell one version, it should be the ad-free one, and offer a rebate if people want to sign up for ads. Just like all scummy spammers, they’re hurling unwanted garbage the customer’s way and then whining that “all” the customer has to do is opt out (and in this case, pay up). They know there will be very few people who, for a few bucks difference, will opt in for ads; but if they make it an opt-out, a lot of users won’t make the effort to have their Kindle upgraded.

    I was thinking of replacing my old Kindle, which now has a bad corner on the screen. Now, I think not.

  18. JonBoy470 says:

    As much as I sympathize with the “I don’t want ads” camp, this decision makes business sense for Amazon. First off, though this is anecdotal, it has been my experience that the vast majority of folks who own a Kindle own the “special offers” version, and the lower price was the driving factor in picking that version. There is no functional or even cosmetic differences between an ad-infested Kindle and an ad-free one. There has also (until now) been no way to alter the customer experience after the fact (i.e. to get an ad-free Kindle you had to buy an ad-free one to begin with).

    But by offering two different experiences out of the box>/i> all Amazon bought themselves was the logistical difficulty of inventorying and distributing two different versions of an otherwise identical product. By making the Kindle Fire ad-infested with paid opt-out, they can cut the number of Kindle SKU’s in half, while still allowing the owner to choose either ad-infested or ad-free experience. And they offer a lower price of entry, which will drive greater sales of the device, which will in-turn drive further content sales through the Amazon ecosystem that the device is a blatant portal to. What actually astonishes me is that they’re making the opt-out so cheap.

    For the cheapest new Kindle at $159, $15 to kill ads adds less than 9.5% to the purchase. For the top-end 8.9″, 64GB, 4G model at $599, that’s only a 2.5% up-charge. By comparison, the ad-infested Kindle (which is now $69) costs $89 without ads. That’s a 28% premium. This $20 premium runs through the entire E-ink line. Even the Kindle Paperwhite 3G costs 11.2% more to be rid of the infestation. Either Amazon thinks the ads on Kindle Fire’s are actually less valuable, or they are actually passing on the savings from simpler logistics…

  19. thomwithanh says:

    Is it a one time fee or $15 a month?

  20. Nicolaus99 says:

    Ah, one more reason to envy pirates. Better product, better distribution, better service.