Schools across the country have been adopting Apple’s iPad as an important interactive learning tool, replacing textbooks and heavy backpacks with the tablets, but Amazon’s hoping to convince schools that its Kindle devices are the better choice.
Today it was announced that the Seattle-based company plans to release a service called “Whispercast,” which is designed to allow schools to easily deploy and manage multiple Kindle devices. This marks the start of Amazon’s official push to get Kindle e-readers and tablets into schools.
With Whispercast, administrators and teachers can set up user accounts for each student on the Kindle devices and then arrange them into one or more groups, to designate classes or age levels. There are also limits on what the Kindles can be used for, with blocks in place for elements like Facebook, web browsing, and purchasing.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to own a Kindle device,” said Jay Marine, VP of Kindle product management. “And we have a particular mission to increase reading, especially among kids.”
In the second quarter of 2012 alone, Apple sold more than a million iPads to the education market, and its upcoming iPad mini will offer an even more affordable device to school administrators. That means Amazon may have a tough time convincing school districts to go with the Kindle over the iPad, which has already proven to be a valuable and easy-to-use tool.
Amazon’s edge is that its devices can be purchased much more cheaply, but there are plans in place for Apple’s iPad mini as well. There have been rumors that Apple is going to provide a deep discount for 10 packs of iPad minis for the educational market, which could halt Amazon’s plans.
Amazon also has to compete with the more than 20,000 education and learning apps that the iPad is able to offer, which is a challenging task, even with its new Whispercast feature.