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Why Amazon was so coy about Kindle Fire HD ad opt-outs

Image Credit: Jennifer Van Grove
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After numerous complaints, Amazon has confirmed that it will indeed let customers opt out of “Special Offers” advertising on the new Kindle Fire HD for $15. It’s a show of goodwill on Amazon’s part, but what was with the mixed messages?

“With Kindle Fire HD, there will be a special offers opt-out option for $15,” Amazon said in a widely circulated statement. “We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out. We’re happy to offer customers the choice.”

From the looks of it, Amazon didn’t think it would be a big deal if its Kindle Fire HD served ads because “very few” Kindle owners opt out of Special Offers. However, with the confusion and mixed messages, it’s almost as if Amazon decided to test if there would be a freak out over not offering an opt out. Once angry customers and tech pundits spoke up, Amazon caved to their requests.

To be fair, the reason many folks (including me) haven’t opted out is that Special Offers aren’t that obtrusive and only show up on the lock screen. Unlocking the screen takes a split second, so I don’t even have to look at the ad.

But it’s always better to give customers the option to ditch advertising, so Amazon is doing the right thing and giving customers a way out by paying $15 — just like it did with the first Kindle Fire. Advertising is included to subsidize the price of the tablets, and Amazon could eventually make a lot of money advertising on millions of large, colorful home screens. But it’s better to keep customers happy by giving them an option they probably won’t take.

The Kindle Fire HD will be released on Sept. 14, while the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ Wi-Fi and 4G models are expected to ship on Nov. 20.

Kindle Fire HD photo: Jennifer Van Grove/VentureBeat

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