Kindle could be had for $25 less than retail? What if we told you it came from the rear of a nondescript white van? Or what if we told you that you'd first need to sign up for 842 email marketing scams? Thankfully, none of those scenarios are ones we're looking to tell you about. Instead, we're here to introduce you to the world's first ad-supported Kindle, going on sale within Target and Best Buy locations for $114. That represents a gentle $25 savings compared to the price of today's cheapest Kindle, but those 2500 pennies don't come free -- you'll be asked to endure "advertisements on the bottom of the device's home page and on its screen savers." Furthermore, it sets a new precedent in the gadget arena that could very well carry over to ad-discounted tablets, netbooks, PMPs, and who knows what else. At this point, Buick, Olay and Visa will be advertising, and we get the impression that said list will bloom in due time. It's hard to say just how intrusive they'll be, but Kindle director Jay Marine seems to think that "customers are going to love it."
We aren't so sure. While it's crystal clear that the general populace adores coupon cutting, it seems problematic to us to ship a pair of identical products that cost within $25 of one another and expect Joe Sixpack to grok the difference. In fact, we're guessing that this will inevitably lead to consumer complaints from those who can't figure out why their "on sale Kindle" isn't nearly as enjoyable to read as "Bob's Kindle... that he found during a sale." At any rate, a demo of the new device displayed a screen saver deal "where customers would pay $10 for a $20 gift card to Amazon," and while no ads will appear in e-books, there's still "a clear advertisement" along the bottom of the home screen. All that said, here's the key feature that Amazon's seemingly overlooking: an option in the software to pay back the $25 a customer skimped on to do away with the ads on their ad-supported e-reader. Solves the buyer's remorse problem, at least.
Update: And it's official -- PR's after the break!