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Amazon does about turn on Kindle Fire HD “no opt for ads” policy

Ama­zon has deft­ly engi­neered a swift volte-face after near­ly shoot­ing itself in the foot over the launch of the new Kin­dle Fire HD: pur­chasers will now be giv­en the option of declin­ing ads after all.

The e‑commerce giant con­firmed late last week that ads would be dis­played on the Kin­dle HD’s lock screen with­out giv­ing cus­tomers the option of declin­ing them.

Mar­ket­ing coup or a farce?

It doesn’t take a high-fly­ing e‑commerce ana­lyst or senior e‑commerce man­ag­er to tell that this was a seri­ous­ly flawed strat­e­gy: as Busi­ness Insid­er jour­nal­ist Steve Kovach observed, com­pul­so­ry full col­or, media-rich ads are far more obtru­sive than the ads on the black-and-white Kin­dle, which he con­sid­ered a “small price to pay” for a low-cost e‑reader.  But in a prod­uct aimed at rival­ing the iPad, it seems like an act of self-sabotage.

Com­ment­ing on the sit­u­a­tion Kovach wrote: “I guar­an­tee lock­ing users into a forced ad-view­ing expe­ri­ence is going to ruf­fle a lot of feath­ers, espe­cial­ly since Ama­zon’s pol­i­cy with oth­er devices allows the cus­tomers to opt out.”

Could this be a promis­ing coup turn­ing to farce before it’s real­ly begun? Not many prod­ucts can reach the sky in a lead bal­loon. The prod­uct is pro­mot­ed as being good val­ue for the price tag, as an arti­cle in the Wall Street Jour­nal sug­gests.  For a slight­ly low­er spec pro­file, the Fire HD starts at $199 com­pared to Apple’s $399 bot­tom dollar.

A time­ly U‑turn

Thank­ful­ly, Ama­zon appears to have respond­ed swift­ly to the cho­rus of protest that greet­ed its com­pul­so­ry ad announce­ment.  In a state­ment issued on Sep­tem­ber 9th, the com­pa­ny announced a prag­mat­ic U‑turn:

“I want­ed to let you know that with Kin­dle Fire HD there will be a spe­cial offers opt-out option for $15. 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.”

Whilst it’s true to say that many Ama­zon cus­tomers didn’t both­er with the opt-out before, not being giv­en the choice could have had a com­mer­cial impact beyond the imme­di­ate cam­paign.  In the nick of time, it seems that Ama­zon has recov­ered its instinct to make as many of its cus­tomers as hap­py as pos­si­ble — but it near­ly stamped on their toes and twist­ed their noses when it need­ed to place a friend­ly arm around their shoulders.

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