In a deal valued at $16.5 million, the U.S. Department of State has awarded Amazon.com a 5-year contract to put tens of thousands of Kindle electronic readers in educational centers around the world. Nextgov reports that the e-readers will be used for educational purposes, helping individuals overseas study English at libraries, educational centers, reading rooms and other locations. The devices also will be used as a tool in the Department of State’s English Access Microscholarship Program.
The initial purchase from the U.S. Department of State is for 2,500 Kindles, and includes content as well.
Amazon is on the hook for providing other services as part of the contract, including customer support, international shipping, a protective cover and the appropriate country-specific power adapter.
Here’s what the Department of State said in a document about why the Kindle was picked over other devices:
Other e-Readers such as the Barnes and Noble Nook, the Sony Reader Daily and Kobe [Sic] e-Reader cannot provide the text to speech requirement, the long-lasting battery life and the free Wi-Fi with a global network (which is a firm requirement since all devices are to be used overseas). Additionally, the portability and durability of the Kindle is unique, and is required by the government due to overseas shipment requirements and use in public facilities by students.
Although the Apple iPad offers features that meet many of the requirements of this project it falls under the tablet/computer segment versus a single function e-reader device. The additional features are not only unnecessary, but also present unacceptable security and usability risks for the government’s needs in this particular project. Critically, the Apple iPad falls short on two requirements: the centrally managed platform for registration and content delivery, and battery life.
You can read more about the contract here or in the document below. Meanwhile, Tricia Duryee of All Things D reports that Amazon is looking to open its Appstore in Europe this summer, and speculates that the Kindle Fire might be heading overseas as well in the coming months.
[This post has been corrected with more accurate information about the contract]