Kindle comes to Carphone Warehouse, Best Buy – "free" on some mobile contracts

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Regular readers will know that I love my Kindle.

And with news today that Amazon’s eReader will be stocked at Carphone Warehouse, the UK’s largest independent mobile phone retailer, along with its sister company Best Buy, that love should get spread a little further.

This is especially true since, as well as selling the device outright, Carphone hopes to entice customers to sign up for a 24 month mobile phone contract by dangling the carrot of a “free” Kindle WiFi edition on tariffs starting from £15 per-month. Or for an extra one-off payment of £15 they can upgrade their free eReader to the 3G version.

Yes, the subsidy merry-go-round has reached the Kindle.

For those that aren’t familiar with how it works, it goes something like this:

Consumers sign up to a 24 month mobile contract paying, say, anything between £15-40 per month and with it they get a “free” and potentially high end smartphone or in this case a phone and a Kindle. Of course, it’s not really free but much more akin to a ‘hire purchase’ whereby they’re paying for the device over the course of that 24 month contract. Then, once the contract is up, the carrier entices the consumer to sign on for a further 18-24 months in return for another shiny new phone, which once again the consumer is actually paying for, even if at a discount thanks to the negotiating ability of the carrier and economies of scale from the handset maker’s point of view.

Ask yourself this: name one other piece of consumer tech that ‘average’ consumers are persuaded to replace, almost without question, on an 18 or 24 monthly basis? It doesn’t happen with TVs, DVD or Blu-ray players, audio systems (iPods apart but that’s a different story i.e. poor build quality, brilliant marketing and non user replaceable batteries). And it certainly doesn’t happen with PCs.

But that “free” Kindle sure does look good.