Thoughts on Amazon's New Whispernet Charge Policy

By Joe Wikert
May 21, 2009

As everyone probably knows by now, Amazon has altered the conversion/delivery fee associated with sending files wirelessly to your Kindle. When I got my Kindle v.1 I was happy to see that I could email PDFs and other documents and have them delivered wirelessly to the device for 10 cents/attachment. When I dug in deeper and was told by an Amazon rep (last summer) that they're actually not charging anything for this service I was ecstatic.

Once I figured out there was no cost involved in using this service, well, I'm sure I used it a lot more frequently than Amazon anticipated. Unfortunately, I apparently wasn't the only one doing this, which is what forced Amazon to change the policy.

Am I happy about the change? Absolutely not, but I understand the reason behind it. Here's a great summary of the situation from the Kindle 2 Review blog, btw.

So although I understand why Amazon made this change, I think they're financially addressing the symptom but not the cause. If the problem is due to so many of us using Kindles for services other than buying books or subscribing to magazines, newspapers and blogs, well, Amazon what does that tell you?! Maybe the model for those books, magazines, etc., needs to be adjusted.

This gets back to one of my chief gripes about Amazon and the Kindle. I see almost no innovation happening with the platform. How about other ways to acquire content? What would you think of an all-you-can-eat Kindle content subscription model like Safari Books Online, for (one simple) example? When I get my AMEX bill every month I'm amazed at how little I spend on Kindle content. I guarantee you I'd spend considerably more for a monthly all-you-can-eat subscription model on it and I suspect I'm not alone.

So Amazon, rather than just putting a band-aid on the wound and hoping it gets better, would you please take a closer look at the data and see what it might mean about the platform itself?

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