Kindle 3G – it’s a trap

03Aug10

Update 22 Nov 2011 - A whole new range of Kindles have been launched since I wrote this over a year ago. The new Kindle Touch 3G only has free 3G browsing for the Kindle Store and Wikipedia. No changes have been made to the terms and conditions attached to the Kindle I wrote about, now known as the Kindle 3G Keyboard, and ‘experimental’ web browsing over 3G worldwide has remained free. At this stage in the game I’m inclined towards thinking that the trap I wrote about will never spring, and instead my prophecy turns out to only apply to later models of the Kindle reader. Get one of the older ones whilst you still can – not only does the new version not have free 3G browsing for almost all of the web, but right now there’s not even a means to pay for it.

Update 26 Nov 2011 - The Kindle DX, also has worldwide 3G is presently on sale for $259, which seems like quite a bargain to me. It’s got a larger 9.7″ screen – perfect for textbooks, and I don’t yet see a similar model in the new Kindle line up.

Update 24 Jul 2012 – It seems that 3G browsing was notionally limited to 50MB/month, and that Amazon are now clamping down on those who exceed that limit.

I tend to be quite a gadget freak, but as you can tell from my technology time line I often wait until the wrinkles in v1.0 have been sorted out.

I find the concept of an eBook reader hugely appealing – all that knowledge in such a small form factor. I also think that there is a place for a dedicated device for this purpose, with the right form factor and screen technology (and battery life). Reading books on smartphones doesn’t seem right to me, my tablet PC doesn’t really have the battery life (or the fine pitch screen), and my sense is that dedicated tablet devices like the iPad are optimised for web and video more than reading.

The thing that’s been putting me off is DRM. I just hate the idea that I’m buying into a platform where somebody else ultimately controls my device and the content placed upon it. The countervailing force here seems to be O’Reilly – so many of the books that I’d want to read (or at least have at my fingertips)[1] on an eBook reader are published by them, and they’ve had the foresight to publish their stuff DRM free. I also like their daily promotions, where you can snag a bargain for $9.99.

There are lots of things that seem to be right about the Kindle 3, as you’d expect after almost 3 years of  real world (ab)use by users. Size, ergonomics, screen, battery – right – all of these things seem sufficiently better than their forerunners that it’s hard to see how they’ll be substantially improved upon in later releases[2]. My take is that there’s very little buyers remorse built into this thing.

The feature that I really want is the ‘Free 3G Wireless‘ with ‘Global Wireless Coverage‘. This is like a dream come true for the travelling geek – something where I can check my email, catch up on my RSS feeds and pull down a Google Map without incurring insane data roaming charges. I WANT ONE NOW was my first though. But wait a sec, this looks too good to be true, so it probably isn’t true. Let’s check the fine print. Hmmm not a lot in there about browsing, but ‘Your Kindle may use wireless connectivity to make other services available to you for which we may charge you a fee, such as personal file download and subscriptions when you are located in another country‘. This looks like  saving up trouble for later on, especially when combined with the ‘New WebKit-Based Browser‘ being described as one of the ‘Experimental Features‘.

So… my take is that this is the classic drug dealer model. The first hit (or first few months or whatever) is free, and then once there’s a nice chunky population of people hooked on an experience where they can browse anywhere the browser will suddenly stop being an ‘experimental feature‘ and become an ‘other service…for which we may charge you a fee‘. I’ll stick my neck out here and predict that fee will have at least two tiers – one for access within your own country, and another for roaming. I won’t speculate on how easy it will be for travellers to hop between local and roaming tarrifs other than that it will incorporate some of the usual telco confusopoly structures.

The bottom line here is that $50 (or £40) for 3G won’t get the buyer unlimited global web surfing. It looks too good to be true, and therefore it is. In the words of Admiral Ackbar – ‘it’s a trap!‘. That 3G is there so that Amazon can sell you books. Whilst it may be possible to use it (for the time being) to do some surfing too at no extra cost that’s a feature that can’t be (and therefore won’t be) economically sustainable.

I was still tempted to order one, but the shipping date was perilously close to my next trip to the US, which would be me best chance to make use of roaming 3G for web browsing. Now that they’re on back order I reckon I’ll wait to find out what the fee structure for browsing looks like once it stops being experimental (in time for Christmas)?

Update 30 Sep – I bought a Kindle 3G anyway, and here are my first impressions.

[1] O’Reilly publish the best programming and system admin guides on the planet. When I had a big desk at work it used to have a lot of their books on it. Such books aren’t the sort of thing that you read from cover to cover though. They’re the kind of book that you dip in and out of. I suspect that eBook readers are even better for reference books than they are for fiction etc.

[2] The lack of colour is perhaps the one big issue here that may get resolved in an economic and power efficient way before any reader bought today falls apart. Whilst colour isn’t that important for fiction it’s a bigger deal for reference books. The section of Make: Electronics that explains resistor colour codes must surely lose impact on a greyscale screen.



38 Responses to “Kindle 3G – it’s a trap”

  1. Some publishers can opt-out of DRM. You just can’t tell which have done so ahead of time. But the DRM can be, um, removed.

    The browser has been experimental since version 1. The difference now is that it’s WebKit-based. I don’t know if anyone has rung up charges using it in all this time. You have to also remember that it is an eInk screen, so it’s unlikely you’re really going to want to stroll around the Net much with it.

    • 2 Chris Swan

      With Cory away on holiday (and not blogging or tweeting much if at all) I’d missed his piece published yesterday on getting DRM free eBooks published – Doctorow’s First Law

  2. It’s all in how you look at it. I personally think expecting that anyone will make a device that connects to the internet for free, anywhere in the world, is unrealistic. Yeah, it would be nice; so would a hot fudge sundae that tastes like the real thing but only has 20 calories.

    As you point out yourself, the main purpose of the 3G connection is to sell you books. As someone who is too lazy to get the cable out and hook the eReader to the PC, I consider the 3G pretty much the best feature on a Kindle. Nor do I think that Amazon will take it away any time soon.

    Plus, have you tried browsing on an e-ink device? It’s like trying to take a shower under a pipe the diameter of a drinking straw. It’s not that you CAN’T do it, it’s that you won’t want to once you try it.

    • 4 Chris Swan

      I don’t for a moment expect Amazon to take 3G away, but I do expect them to start charging for browsing at some stage.

      I’ve not been able to find any first hand commentary on the new WebKit browser. Views vary dramatically from those that expect it to be like Chrome/Safari to those who expect it to suck. All that I’d want is something that can cope with Google Reader, and I don’t see that e-ink would be a major issue there. I run a Flash blocker as a matter of course, so it’s perfectly fine with me that it won’t do animations etc.

      • Well, I ordered a Kindle 3 the day after they announced it; once it gets here, I’ll try it with Google reader and let you know.

  3. 6 Hugh

    I find the iPad to be an acceptable e-reader. Not as clear as the Kindles I have seen, but still very serviceable, especially with an anti-glare film applied.

    My main gripes about the Kindle bookstore (after buying about 40 books through it) are as follows. First, I have several books (ranging from modern novels to academic textbooks) that are riddled with OCR errors. In one book, every instance of ‘th’ became ‘di’, which made it unreadable. I obviously wasn’t only one complaining, as Amazon re-issued the book in a corrected form. Howver, there is clearly little or no quality control involved in the scanning process. Unfortunately, it seems that e-books will make traditional editors and proofreaders endangered species.

    Second, I have found that most of the academic textbooks I have bought are missing all/most of their illustrations. In the cases where illustrations still exist (such as maps) they are very low resolution and basically unreadable. I bought one book on military history where all the maps were unreadable, and all the illustrations consisted of placeholders saying “image rights unavailable”. The Kindle version was priced the same as the paperback version of the book, but I would claim that it provided a very reduced and inferior reading experience. Again, Amazon customer service is very good at dealing with refunds, etc., but I would rather that they came clean on any major differences between print and electronic versions.

    Even so, in spite of all that griping, I am a convert to the convenience and general usability of e-books. Especially for reference materials, the ability to carry a searchable library on a single device is overwhelmingly compelling. I still like to have paper copies of key books. Even on the iPad the screen is too small and I find myself frequently skipping forwards and backwards when reading technical material. For trashy holiday novels, however, it’s perfect! Plus, using the kindle app on a smartphone is one of the few ways of making rush hour travel on the Jubilee Line just about bearable.

    –Hugh

  4. The unexpected bonus here is the battery life, it seems to last 2-3 weeks easily, and you don’t have to port around another charger.

    I have a kindle in a sleeve of my filofax, and can open it up pretty much anywhere in Europe, turn on wireless, and get my papers and blogs delivered instantly.

    The web browsing is great for functional stuff like, need a number, or a map, or maybe read twitter. But it is not fun, which is great – I’m reading more, and surfing less. It’s also super handy if you’re a sailor! – http://bit.ly/dpsiWy

    • Thanks Angus,

      Despite my misgivings about the ‘free’ 3G rug being pulled out I bought one anyway and it arrived today. First impressions review to follow.

  5. 10 Mark

    you have totally missed the point of the kindle. the kindle is not a wireless device for web surfing or check email or doing any of that. its an ebook reader thats how amazon markets it and thats excatly what it is. if you want that other device check out the ipad.

    • Mark, as I hope you see from my later post I bought a Kindle and really like it for its intended purpose. This post was in response to a lot of froth that I was reading claiming that the Kindle 3G was going to be a travellers best friend by being an unlimited internet browsing device. As I’ve come to find out it’s a browsing device that you want to use in emergencies rather than all the time. On the unlimited front time will tell. My own guess is that free international browsing won’t survive very far into 2011.

      Of all the web apps that I do use regularly Google Reader sucks the least on the Kindle 3G. Given the choice between that and paying around €/$15 for hotel WiFi I’d probably put up with the Kindle. Would I like a Kindle optimised Google Reader (and Gmail) – absolutely. Would I pay for them – maybe.

      Do I think it’s worth the 3G premium just to get books on demand – no (but then I already have months worth of reading stashed on mine, and books are almost never an impulse buy for me). Some people that I know who get newspaper subscriptions etc. (and travel a lot) think it’s worth the premium to have their daily dose of undead tree. I don’t want that stuff, which is why a slightly better Google Reader would be my preferred choice.

  6. Hi again, Chris :-)

    For an example of how useful that web browser can be where it’s also not slow, try the Google Maps in TEXT form for step-by-step directions from where you are to where you want to be (car, bicycle, walking, public transportation).

    http://bit.ly/kdriving

    That this is available worldwide for U.S., UK ( http://bit.ly/kwkweb2 ) and many other areas is creme.

  7. Chris,
    Since you mentioned gmail, the Kindle 3 sometimes has had a log-in input prob on the main site and also it’s just really slow trying to navigate that page or even to load it.

    For quicker use I’m using http://bit.ly/g_mail

    Caveat: When you reply to one and then Send, you have to get to the bottom of the reply first (I use PgDn) but the only way to get out of that BOX is to arrow down beyond it, to get to the Send or Submit button. Very tedious. Useful if you HAVE to email someone :-)

    You can get to folders at the top left — much better than trying to navigate between those and the email on the same page with the clunky 5-way cursor though.

  8. Well, 7 months on and Amazon are still doing the impossible and providing free 3G web browsing. Provided that mobile phone companies have spare 3G capacity, someone like Amazon can negotiate bargain basement prices. As long as the ratio of paid for downloads of content versus free content browsing is in Amazons favour it makes sense. Will Amazon ever be tempted to make the browser really useable and start charging? ….. Probably :o(

    • 15 Jimmy

      So, will Amazon be offering 3g/4g data subscription in the future?

      • I doubt it. What I expected to happen is for them to offer a subscription for the browser application to use the device’s 3G connectivity (with pricing bands for domestic and roaming).

        I see little point in putting 4G on a Kindle. Ebooks just aren’t large enough to justify other aspects of the power/weight compromise.

  9. Bottomline is this all still does not make the Kindle 3G a “trap”. Amazon has still been providing free internet browsing in most parts of the world, heck, even some obscure parts of the world and we’re already more than halfway in 2011. Not to sound harsh or anything and I mean no disrespect but you should really edit the title of your article or at least add a question mark at the end of it since it is misleading and written without any facts that support that the Kindle 3G is a “trap”.

    • As more time passes it looks increasingly likely that this won’t be a real problem. That said, the browser isn’t getting any better, so it’s still only suitable for occasional use.

      The fact also still stands that Amazon could declare tomorrow that the browser is no longer an experimental feature, and introduce a subscription structure for 3G use.

  10. They’ve had the free experimental web browser since 2007 – that’s four years and not exactly cause for alarm or super concern. What I wish is that they would get it back to easy-readability as it was with the ‘basic mode’ of Kindle 2 — but the new ‘Article Mode.’ once you make it to an article, is a huge plus.

    If it weren’t so slow, people would use it a lot and Amazon would definitely have to reconsider paying for it, but I don’t think there’s any reason to think e-Ink web browsing will ever be fast enough to threaten its availability.

    The Kindle’s free 3G is available in 60 countries. Anyone whose country’s carriers have a lower-cost arrangement with Amazon on 3G use, is able to use the free 3g browser both in that country and the other 59 or so. Does beat roming charges on a smart phone when travelling abroad.

    Other e-readers don’t let you use 3G except in the company store when using a 3G model. No visits to other websites.

    And now the new Nook has no 3G at all. Nor does my NookColor.

    That’s how far ahead here Amazon is and yet they get no credit for that feature, mainly worry, when it IS valued some, that they’ll yank it away.

    What are the chances that if a Nook or Kobo or Sony came out with free 3G web browsing, no matter how slow, that they wouldn’t get credit for the unusual feature in a comparison review.

    Yet it’s seldom mentioned in any feature comparisons. Most just say they have the ‘same’ 3G as other readers do. Not at all. I sure don’t ‘surf’ with it though – that would be too painful, but I use it often to look up info wherever I am or check and even briefly answer gmail.. It’s a real plus at no added data-cost.

    • It doesn’t really matter that the browser has been there for years – Amazon wasn’t picking up the tab for the bandwidth until the 3G model came along.

      I totally agree that the roaming functionality is super useful, and it’s saved me a few $ on a few occasions already. For somebody travelling in some of the further flung corners of the world it must be a total godsend. I was just sceptical that it would remain free, and I’m happy that it has so far.

      Since none of us really know what the bandwidth bill looks like at the Amazon end, and what the breakdown is between buying Kindle books and surfing the web it’s hard to be more precise about the economics of the situation. One observation I would make is that it’s in Amazon’s interest for the browser to suck if they’re picking up the bandwidth tab.

      • Chris, the very first model in 2007 was 3G and ALL models since then have been 3G. until the Kindle 3, when they made their first WiFi model, without any 3G.

        The free 3G web browsing has been going on since February 2007.

        I have photos of my Kindle 1 performing a google search.pre WiFi chip days. Only 3G and free for the last four years. They say the cost of it is probably calculated into the cost of Kindle books but as we know, they are among the least expensive of the contemporary ones. Amazon first had a 3G contract with Sprint and now with both Sprint (for Kindle 1 and 2 + DX, U.S.-3G only) and with AT&T which put 3G Int’l on later Kindle 2′s and the 3G-version of Kindle 3.

        I hope that helps your concern a bit.

        We agree on that last thought! The availability of it is worthwhile, for sure.

        (Using an email address and user name I used previously though my nickname is anie and my last name starts with a ‘b’…)

  11. 22 Roy Pemberton

    Chris,
    I really do think it’s time you admitted that you got it wrong, and were being uneccesarily alarmist. Of course, there’s never any guarantee that anything’s forever – just look at final salary pensions & jobs for life! But how long should you give something before you finally acknowledge that there seems to be no basis for your concern? I just don’t see what use your stance is to any readers of your blog when it so completely misleads folk. comeon, admit when you have been proved wrong.

    • Roy,

      As you’ll see in the other comments I am surprised that the situation has continued like this for so long without resolution. Of course Amazon could prove me completely wrong and announce that the browser over 3G will remain free for the life of a device, which would make the 3G premium look even more attractive (especially for international travellers). On the other hand Amazon could announce the end of their ‘experiment’ any day, and introduce subscriptions for browsing over 3G.

      What also surprises me (at least a little) is that nobody seems to have hacked Kindle’s 3G capability to turn it into a tethered modem or MiFi. I think if that happened Amazon’s hand would be forced in some way.

      I wrote the piece because I was hearing a lot of exuberance about having a device with unlimited free Internet access. One person even described it as a ‘big free Blackberry’. My instinctive reaction was that the relatively small premium for 3G that would represent the service element (rather than the extra hardware cost) probably wouldn’t sustain that kind of usage. I’m now inclined to think that the service premium I and many others paid probably was more than enough to sustain an ecosystem. It’s pretty impractical to consume lots of data given the nature of the browser, and hence I’d reckon most people don’t use it that much. It can however be a real life saver, and I’ve been very thankful for it (and the savings I’ve made) a number of times. There’s probably a tiny population of users out there that get disproportionate value out of it, but obviously not so many that Amazon’s been forced to change anything.

  12. Chris,
    There’s one item that’s important. Amazon has let the free 3G web lookups go on for 4 entire years (as I mentioned, the first 3 models were 3G only), and so your worry over a ‘trap’ was only because you didn’t know this.

    • The Kindle 3 changed things in a number of ways that disrupted the old ecosystem:

      * A much improved browser – everybody seemed to say that the Kindle 1/2 browser was pretty much useless, so it hardly mattered that Amazon had offered the service for free.
      * A much keener price point – indicating that the scale of adoption would change significantly, and leaving less padding for the service element of providing ‘free’ wireless
      * A choice between WiFi only and 3G – making it much clearer what the 3G premium was, and also offering a path where the user would be picking up any connectivity related charges
      * Much broader international support – both in the sales and distribution model for the devices and the 3G roaming

      I think the final point is perhaps the key. For those of us who travel frequently, and who have become accustomed to the abuse of international roaming charges (particularly for data) the Kindle 3G, and it’s browsing capability, looked like (and in fact is) a total bargain. I for one happily paid my 3G premium even though I knew Amazon might change the rules on me any day.

      The key question is perhaps why hasn’t the ‘trap’ sprung?

      I’m guessing that the answer to that lies in the structure of Amazon’s deal with the telcos. It’s quite possible that there’s simply no such concept of roaming in that deal, and hence we’re no longer talking about (artificially) expensive international data, but rather bog standard cheap domestic data.

  13. Chris, I had all 3 of the 6″ Kindles. The first one was the slowest as the display was very slow.

    The Kindle 2 is not that different from the Kindle 3 and is, in fact, faster, in basic mode, when you don’t need javascript for log-ins. My log-ins tend to be remembered, moreover.

    ‘Everybody’ doesn’t know what they’re talking about re Kindle 2 browser. In fact, the Kindle 3 browser is not that much better. E-Ink browsers will always be slower. Many call the K3 browser ‘useless’ probably because they already have smart phones with data plans. You’ve seen some use for the 3G feature.

    The Kindle 2 gives you larger, more readable fonts on a web page and doesn’t try to squeeze everything in, width-wise, the way the Kindle3 does, the latter making you have to zoom EVERYthing. The one improvement is that once you slowly wend your way into an article, THEN you can chose ‘article mode’ and drop ads and side-links.

    I used my 3G lookups w/ the older models constantly to check product reviews of items on sale in front of me at stores, and I have photos of the sessions at
    http://www.pbase.com/andrys/kindleplus

    A Kindle 2 gallery is at
    http://www.pbase.com/andrys/kindle2
    and, for me, shows it as anything but “useless” … as I show the things I tended to do using it.

    Most of the photos are from the older models. On February 2009, I got the Kindle 2 and took web-browsing pictures comparing Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 that day (before I started a blog in late March).

    That comparison is are at http://bit.ly/kscreens … Model 1 had only 4 shade levels rather than 16. Nevertheless, I went to magazine sites with it.

    As for providing a path to charge users, it’s actually a good path to save Amazon money, as they don’t pay for WiFi while of course they do pay, under their now 4-year plan, for 3G access. WiFi means big savings for them.

    The reasons they can do it are that you can’t gobble data via e-Ink and certainly not the large complex images of most sites — going mobile-device optimized sites is key. Text and reading text-live doesn’t take that much.

    But, really, there’s no ‘resolution’ needed – it -could- have been a trap, long ago, but it wasn’t. Int’l models and free browsing started in Nov. 2009.

    I have a free, downloadable, ad-free file that has faster-loading URLs for both K3 and K2/DX models. Google maps step-by-step directions are much better on Kindle 2 and DX. They have to be zoomed on the Kindle 3, which is an unnecessary pain.
    That file is downloadable at http://bit.ly/kmobiweb

    (You can preview these shortcuts by putting a “+” at the end.

  14. 27 Marc Johnson

    Hi Chris,

    I’m a Canadian and live in Canada. I wanted to see if I understood this correctly:

    If I purchase a Kindle [ 3G + Wifi ] model, are both Wifi and 3G services free whilst traveling abroad, say in Europe or Caribbean?

    I would more than likely download books from home, yet would like to use the Kindle to access Gmail, check the weather and/or directions. I don’t own a smart phone so I think this would be a really great way to save some money for internet access.

    Then again, I’m usually near a Wifi signal [I think], so how often or under what circumstances would 3G be handy? Maybe sitting on a park bench in the middle of nowhere, or going for a hike in some far away forest?

    Sorry for my lack of computer / phone signal understanding.

    Marc

    • The WiFi is free if your connection is free – at home, some hotels and cafes etc. Some places charge obscene rates for WiFi, but that’s where the 3G comes in.

      Right now the 3G browsing is free wherever it works (60 or so countries). I wrote this post as I didn’t expect it to remain free for long, but time is proving me wrong. Even if Amazon do start charging for browsing over 3G I would speculate that it will be a bargain versus hotel WiFi and roaming 3G data.

  15. 29 Marc Johnson

    Thanks for the feedback, that’s helpful. I looked into the Kindle further and as a Canadian purchaser, I’m finding that e-book selections from Amazon are severely limited due to publisher restrictions etc. in Canada. Major titles are simply not available for purchase. There may be a way around this such as purchasing from alternative sources and then using Calibre to convert to Mobi [Kindle] format, yet I’d still have DRM to contend with prior to being able to convert the file. Not sure where to go from here, I just tried out the Kobo at a retail Chapters [Indigo] location and wasn’t too impressed with it. Research continues…

    • It’s possible to get around these things. You’ll need a VPN or proxy to pretend that you’re in the US (amusingly Amazon’s own EC2 service is very useful for this – at only 2c a go); a payment card that works in the US (Amex seems to do the trick – just don’t use a card that’s already registered with an Amazon account); a US address (anywhere will do, as nothing is physically shipped) and a separate pretending you’re in the US Amazon account. Unswindle can deal with the DRM issues associated with Kindle being bound to a single Amazon account.

  16. 31 chris bourne

    The additional fee is for Whispersync wireless synchronize service.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_navbox_fees_200375630?nodeId=200375630&#fees

    • I probably should have referenced those fees when I first posted, as they give some impression of what the fee structure for browsing might look like (if that ever comes to pass that the browser stops being ‘experimental’ and Amazon decide to make charges for the bandwidth used for browsing).

      • Yes, and we need dto clarify what those fees are for, and that is for when WE send ourselves personal documents that we want Amazon servers to auto-convert and then dump onto our Kindles.

        Not knowing what size these “personal documents” might be,(this is -not- web-browsing but sending of personal docs involving conversions and delivery over 3G), the fee is based on that 15c per megabyte.

        If you want maybe a better idea of cost that has to be calculated for activity with 3G that Amazon never budgeted for the “free 3G web browsing” feature they market, there are also the Kindle apps that require 3G downloads, and the developer has to charge enough to cover that type of 3G cost.

        The deal with Sprint and with AT&T for SLOWLY ‘browsing’ the web is done with the idea (proved true) that it’s not going to be used too much, as any sites with multiple, large images and constant ad displays will take too long to load and people won’t do it. The sending of files via email to one’s Kindle over 3G is another story.

        I don’t think eInk will ever be a problem when it comes to web look-ups — but they’re not going to be able to do this with the LCD tablets. I WOULD like some kind of reasonable, tiered possibility though, when tablets arrive.

  17. 34 Audrey

    Actually, having travelled internationally now for 5 months, the NEW notice for international travellers has been updated. Before, it said that experimental browsing would be free. That has now been taken out of the notice completely and only states that international 3G coverage can be used for the kindle store. This is actually quite frustrating – what made my parents fall in love with the kindle and actually purchase 2 was the 3G service I had while travelling! I hope that Amazon will continue to allow free experimental browsing on the Kindle 3g keypad.

    • So I was using my 3G keyboard in Spain a few weeks back – same as ever – nice free access to all the sites I wanted. Has something changed since then? Any sign of a charging structure?

      • Here’s what has happened, after a few of us requested clarification after reading marketing pages for the newer Kindles. The upshot is at http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2011/10/amazon-kindle-team-answers-on-kindle.html (shortcut: http://bit.ly/kwkteam-kt3g )

        Essentially, Kindle Team finally answered at the forums, with this official word:

        ===
        ‘Posted on Oct 2, 2011 4:42:59 PM PDT

        The Amazon Kindle team says:
        (AMAZON OFFICIAL)

        We apologize for the confusion. Our new Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store, download books and periodicals, and access Wikipedia – all over 3G or Wi-Fi.

        Experimental web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi.

        Our Kindle Keyboard 3G will continue to offer experimental web browsing over 3G or Wi-Fi. ‘
        ===

        So, I use the Touch to read at home and I take my K3 out with me.

        If you’ve used the Touch, you’ll see how much faster it is with the web, both in page loads and in the ability to navigate directly to a link via a touch on a link.

        It’s apparent they couldn’t afford to pay for that kind of access. I’m glad they’re continuing to support it on the K3 AKA Kindle Keyboard.

        I would not have the greatest confidence they’ll reorderthese units once current stock is gone because people say they’re being given good discounts at some stores.

      • 37 Audrey

        I have been using it also up until yesterday when my dad alerted me that his newly bought Kindle Touch wouldn’t work with the experimental browser. That’s when I read the new international fees notice on my kindle.

        I immediately emailed kindle to plea with them to continue to not charge for experimental browsing on the kindle keyboard and here is what they said:

        “Internet access using your Kindle’s Web Browser through Whispernet is not available in most countries outside the United States when using your Kindle’s 3G connection, however most customers can access Wikipedia. These restrictions do not apply when accessing the Web Browser over a Wi-Fi connection.

        ****(This is news to me as I accessed email through my kindle from Tibet, India, Turkey, etc. And not just wikipedia.)****

        I understand your concern about reinstating experimental browsing being covered by 3G service and I’m also sending your message to the appropriate people in our company for their consideration.”

        So, they could technically start charging whenever they feel like! Sad.


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