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Amazon May Give Free Kindles to Combat Apple

TechCrunch reports that Amazon is gearing up to offer free Kindles. The tip comes from a "reliable source," and follows a previous program in January that refunded the money of consumers who were dissatisfied with the Kindle device (while also allowed to keep it).

According to the source, Amazon is currently determining how to provide the free Kindles to its Amazon Prime subscribers without losing money. For $79 per year, the subscription-based service offers free two-day shipping and free standard shipping, and also offers a discount when subscribers choose to upgrade to overnight shipping. The program is designed mainly for heavy users who purchase items from Amazon on a frequent, monthly basis.

The latest Kindle model sporting the 6-inch display costs $259 USD. To make the free offer work, Amazon may need to implement a required contract spanning a certain number of years. Another option would be to enforce a book club-like system that requires the user to purchase a number of ebooks per year in addition to the yearly Amazon Prime subscription fee.

The supposed free Kindle offer may be Amazon's attempt to take on Apple's prettier iPad, perhaps to sway ebook readers into choosing Amazon's cheaper option as well as giving them an incentive to sticking with Amazon's own book store.