Amazon today unveiled its new Whispercast for Kindle service, which provides businesses and other organizations like schools a way to easily deploy Kindle content to members, students and employees across not only Amazon hardware, but also Kindle apps for iOS and Android devices. Right now, it allows administrators to buy Kindle books and documents and spread them around. Amazon plans to one day add the ability to push out Kindle Fire apps to the company’s Android-powered tablets as well.
The initiative is clearly designed to give Kindle a greater foothold in the education market, where Amazon is saying that Whispercast allows not only widespread distribution of content, including free classic titles whose copyrights have expired, but also remote device management for Kindles owned by educational organizations. Already, there are programs that have seen Kindles deployed in school systems, including via Amazon’s own community outreach programs. Whispercast provides an easy way for organizations to more effectively deploy those programs, and also support students who may be bringing their own devices from home.
For business users, Whispercast offers centralized PDF distribution, and the ability to send around authorized apps to Fire devices “in the coming months,” according to Amazon’s press department. Since Amazon’s reach extends to popular BYOD options like the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones via its Kindle app, this could be a very popular option for businesses looking to quickly and easily get everyone in the organization on the same page. Amazon also offers granularity of control, so that administrators can create different user groups and issue them different device settings (including custom network configurations) and content packages. Centralized control over purchases means that one account and payment method (including Amazon gift cards) can be used to purchase all content.
Whispercast is also completely free to use, which makes it highly suitable for not-for-profit and charity organizations as well. In general, this is an impressive offering from Amazon, and one that should help it gain a foothold in enterprise and education markets where it may lag behind other devices like Apple’s iPad and iPhone. And given the timing of this announcement, it’s likely also been hurried to market ahead of Apple’s iPad mini launch, which could itself be a very attractive device for schools and organizations looking for a low-cost tablet device to deploy more widely.