Amazon announced an initiative on Wednesday to get its Kindle e-readers and tablet computers into schools, entering a market that has been particularly successful for rival Apple Inc and its iPad device.
Amazon said it has been testing Kindles in recent years with hundreds of kindergarten through 12th grade schools in the United States, selling the devices at bulk discounts and helping them purchase and distribute e-books to students.
On Wednesday, the company unveiled Whispercast, a service that lets schools manage fleets of Kindle devices from one online location.
Administrators and teachers can set up user accounts for each student and arrange them into one or more groups, such as a specific class or grade level. They can also set limits on what students can do with the devices, such as blocking Facebook and web browsing and disabling purchasing, Amazon said.
Amazon's education push is part of a broader effort by the world's largest Internet retailer to get Kindles into as many hands as possible. The company sells Kindles at cost and hopes to make money selling e-books and other content such as apps, games, music and video through the devices.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to own a Kindle device. Any time we can make that easier, we do that," said Jay Marine, vice president of Kindle product management. "And we have a particular mission to increase reading, especially among kids."
Education is a potentially huge market for tablets and e-readers, partly because they are easier for administrators to manage than personal computers and laptops, according to Carl Howe of consulting firm Yankee Group.
Apple's iPad has been a big hit with educational institutions in the United States. In the second quarter of 2012, the company said sales of iPads in the U.S. education market almost doubled year-over-year to just under 1 million units.
Amazon's Marine said Kindles are easier to carry for students than lots of physical books. Students who are learning to read may also be less intimidated by big books, because the content is housed in small, thin devices, he added.
Source: Yahoo! News
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