Amazon Moves Into The Classroom

Today, Amazon announced a new offering in their Kindle product program called Whispercast - a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution for their Kindle Fire device lineup, targeted for educational institutions and the workplace. Device, data, application management is all included, as well as connectors for organizational collaboration tools like ActiveSync (for Exchange users). The best part? Its free. You pay for the tablets, not the management infrastructure.

The classroom environment was one of Apple’s targets earlier this year, but as a Gizmodo article points out quite eloquently there are more public schools than private, and public schools are under significant cost pressures. The same could be argued for any organization - cost is always a factor, no matter the size or profitability. (Except maybe to the company actually making said expensive tablets, not-so-coincidentally being the most valuable company in the world.

Enter the Kindle Fire at a starting price of $159, running a build of Android 2.3. Thats 3 Fires for 1 iPad. That’s pretty compelling, even when lined up against the new Nexus 7 tablets due out “soon” with an intended price of $199.

So for a fraction of the competitor’s cost you get a managed platform provided by a company that is a heavyweight champion in managing cloud services. Combine that with a free MDM/MAM solution with Amazon’s entire lineup of Kindle services - services that drive immense value beyond apps through content like books, music, and video. (You can get access to Google Play if you root the device, but for a managed environment thats just out of the question.)

Providing a secure, reliable device with access to an abundance of content is where the real value proposition is for schools. With Whispercast, Amazon looks like they’ve got a fairly good product/market fit. Of course the execution of this strategy plays a big part in its future, but I’m really interested in seeing what happens with Whispercast.