A new service launched by Amazon.com this morning is designed to expand the company’s Kindle devices beyond the nightstand and the beach, giving them a bigger presence in the office and the classroom.

The service, dubbed Whispercast (not to be confused with Amazon’s Whispernet), is a tool that lets companies and schools centrally manage large deployments of Kindle e-readers and tablets — distributing books and other digital materials, controlling settings, and restricting how the devices are used. (Sorry, kid, no web browsing for you.)

Whispercast works with Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets, and also with Kindle apps on iOS, Android, Windows PCs and Macs.

Amazon says Whispercast it will also support “bring your own device” programs, letting workers and students link their personally owned Kindles to the centrally managed Whispercast account to receive content. In addition, the company says a future update will also support managed distribution of Android apps to Kindle Fires.

Could this be a tipping point for digital books in the classroom? So far that has been a slog for the company, with many college students in particular still preferring physical books. In the news release announcing Whispercast, Amazon makes a big pitch for e-books as an alternative in the classroom, citing the need to no longer carry heavy textbooks, plus the ability to add and share notes and highlights.

Separately, however, the company appears to be discontinuing the Kindle DX large-screen e-reader, which is particularly suited to textbooks.

RelatedAmazon unit to unveil new kids sites Bookworm.com and AfterSchool.com Thursday

Comments

  • Guest

    Congrats to Amazon on the launch!

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    This is VERY interesting. One thing that has been a strength for Microsoft over the years in the enterprise space over Apple has been management. And for all the head start Apple has with the iPad, their management story is pretty thin.

    I take from this that Amazon is determined to try and get the corporate device market before Microsoft does.

    I do have to say though, I don’t think much of the name. It doesn’t tell me what it is/does. And say what you will about Microsoft naming but from an enterprise point of view boring and straightforward is good (e.g. Systems Management Server).

    • Guest

      What does Systems Management Server do?

      • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

        Manages your systems. :) It’s an old product name: I’m showing my age.

    • guest

      Wouldn’t they have to beat out Apple first?

      • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

        As far as I’m aware, Apple doesn’t have a management story for iPads. And right now tablets are like PCs were in the enterprise around 1991: it’s the wild west with no real management.

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