"In some ways, Amazon and Apple are polar opposites at least when it comes to the way they are approaching the tablet market. As my colleague Erica Ogg has pointed out, Apple's main interest is in selling hardware, and it uses content as a way of doing that. It arguably had no real interest in becoming a music powerhouse, except that controlling access to those songs would give it a powerful lever with which to sell more iPods. Amazon, however, sees devices like the Kindle Fire as a way to sell more content, and that makes it simultaneously more appealing as a partner for media companies and at the same time a potentially more dangerous one as well." (emphasis added)That last sentence should give those in education pause. Amazon's announcement today came with no Steve Jobs-like invocation about the intersection of the liberal arts and technology. I don't predict (in the near future at least) advertisements touting the Fire as a learning tool. At its core, Amazon's move today is about selling content. Amazon content. That may be good news for reading -- recent statistics say e-reader owners buy and read more books. It may be good for loyal Amazon customers -- for those who want to buy what Amazon sells. It may be good for the media companies with which Amazon has partnered. But as Ingram asks at the end of his article, we have to ask what happens when Amazon's interests diverge from those media partners. We should ask what happens when they diverge from consumers' (and educators') interests as well.
by Audrey Watters on 28 Sep, 2011
Audrey Watters is an education writer, a recovering academic, a serial dropout, and some days, ed-tech's Kassandra.
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