August 17, 2012
Amazon Loses Their State Department Kindle Contract
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The US State Department is now turning back on a contract they forged with Amazon 2 months ago - a deal which would have earned the Seattle company $16.5 Million and the US government a load of Kindle Touches to hand out to US embassies the world over.
“US Department of State solicitation (Request for Proposals) SAQMMA12R0272 for Amazon e-Readers, Content Management, and Logistics is cancelled and the Justification and Approval (J&A) to award contract SAQMMA12D0131 on a sole-source basis is withdrawn. The Department of State intends to conduct additional market research and re-examine its requirements for this program.”
Amazon was able to beat out one of their largest competitors, Apple, when they were granted this contract in June. Originally, the government was set to use the new Kindle Touch devices in English language programs in their embassies overseas. Of the two companies, Amazon was seen as more willing to participate with the Government´s terms and meet the strict requirements. Apple´s iPad, on the other hand, was seen as insecure, power hungry and primarily a consumption device.
In a June statement concerning the Government´s choice to go Amazon, a State document reads: “The additional features [of the iPad] 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.”
At the time, the State Department was impressed with the Kindle´s 3G connectivity, long lasting battery life (made possible by the e-ink display) and its text-to-speech functionality. During the life of their $16.5 Million contract, the State Department was set to purchase more than 2,500 Kindle Touches over the next 5 years.
"The DoS has identified the Amazon Kindle as the only e-Reader on the market that meets the Government's needs," said the State Department in their June contract.
“Amazon is the only company possessing the essential capabilities required by the Government."
It´s not yet clear why the State Department has decided to cancel their contract with Amazon or why they didn´t decide to simply renegotiate.
As pointed out by VentureBeat, such a sudden move could indicate the Government is willing to take a second look at Apple´s iPad offerings. Apple is expected to be releasing a new, smaller iPad sometime this year, near the same size as the Amazon Kindle Touch.
The rumored, smaller Apple iPad Mini is expected to have a screen size somewhere between 7 and a half to 8 inches diagonally. Additionally, this new, smaller tablet is expected to ship with two cameras, front and back, in order to facilitate video conferencing. Many have speculated Apple will release such a tablet in the face of competition from Amazon´s Kindle Fire tablet as well as Google´s Nexus 7 tablet. The Cupertino company is expected to hold a press event on September 12th, where they could announce their new iPhone and perhaps this new tablet. No official word from Apple has been given on either of these announcements.