With AT&T now freed from the chains of iPhone exclusivity, and the stupid amounts of money it surely made, other revenue possibilities are probably looking a whole lot more attractive to the cell service provider. The company already offers free 3G connectivity with all Amazon Kindle e-readers, and now that partnership is being taken to the next level: starting March 6, the Amazon device will be sold in AT&T retail stores.
The news was announced this morning in a press release, along with word that the Kindle will be added to AT&;T’s in-store demo devices, allowing customers to sample the e-reading goodness from Amazon. Only the latest generation model, the Kindle 3G, will be available, however.
The Kindle 3G launched last summer, adding a slightly smaller form factor and increased memory storage (4GB) to a device that already includes a Wi-Fi chip and free 3G connectivity through the AT&T network. If the “free 3G” confuses you, remember that the Kindle is vastly underpowered in comparison to full-fledged tablets, lacking even a color screen. The network drain for AT&;T is minimal with the Kindle, since data usage possibilities for the device are similarly low.
The challenge that Amazon faces with the Kindle is its specificity. Price used to be an issue, though the latest Kindle 3G’s $189 value keeps it competitive among more expensive (and more full-featured) tablets. The question consumers now face is whether an all-in-one solution is a worthwhile investment over a dedicated e-reader, despite the higher cost. It’s fair to say though that given the rising adoption rate of tablet computers, not just among consumers but in professional arenas as well, the e-reader business is only going to become increasingly niche as time goes on.