Tuesday, June 12, 2012

U.S. State Department considers $16.5 million contract for Amazon Kindles and content

According to Nextgov, the U.S. State Department is considering a $16.5 million no-bid contract with Amazon that could include as many as 35,000 Kindle eReaders and content. The Kindles would be placed in designated libraries and "U.S.-friendly" educational centers around the world, for people who want to learn English and learn about the U.S. The State Department will guarantee approximately $2.3 million in the first year for at least 2,500 Kindles and 50 titles, with one-year options for the four subsequent years, and is waiting for Amazon to reply with a proposal.

According to the contracting notice that announced the decision, State Department officials decided that Kindles were the only appropriate devices because "they come with a built-in English dictionary, support foreign languages, translate text to speech, and receive information securely from a content distribution platform managed by the State Department."

Other eReaders, such as the Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader Daily and Kobo eReader were considered but deemed unsuitable because "they couldn’t offer the same the text-to-speech function, battery life and free global Wi-Fi connectivity." (I believe that the State Department was actually referring to free global 3G connectivity, which is mentioned in other places.) iPads were also considered, but were rejected because they presented “unacceptable security and usability risks for the government’s needs in this particular project.” In addition, iPad wouldn't give the State Department the same control over dissemination of content as the Kindles.
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