New Amazon Kindle with WebKit browser and free 3G internet

Never mind the books. Amazon’s new Kindle reader is offering as an “experimental feature” a web browser based on WebKit – the same engine as Apple Safari and Google Chrome – that is free to use over 3G networks:

New WebKit-Based Browser
Kindle’s new web browser is based on WebKit to provide a better web browsing experience. Now it’s easier than ever to find the information you’re looking for right from your Kindle. Experimental web browsing is free to use over 3G or Wi-Fi.

Amazon pays for the 3G coverage which is available globally. OK, it is monochrome, but since the Kindle also has a neat little keyboard is this now a great deal for blogging, checking Google maps, and so on?

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Maybe not. Here’s what the terms and conditions say:

Use of Wireless Connectivity. Your Kindle uses wireless connectivity to allow you to shop for and download Digital Content from the Kindle Store. In general, we do not charge you for this use of wireless connectivity … You may use the wireless connectivity provided by us only in connection with the Service. You may not use the wireless connectivity for any other purpose.

If you are like me you may feel there is some inconsistency between these two statements. Enough to say that from my point of view free global web browsing would be a big incentive to purchase a Kindle; but I suspect that if this is real and turns out to be a popular feature consuming significant data traffic, Amazon will soon find a way to charge for it or turn it off.

It is also interesting to see a smidgen of convergence between the Kindle and more general-purpose slate devices. I am not sure if the Kindle strictly counts as a slate since it has a keyboard, but it certainly has the slate look and feel.

 

68 thoughts on “New Amazon Kindle with WebKit browser and free 3G internet”

  1. On the older international kindle you can’t web browse when you are outside of North America +1 dialling code (I presume this is the geographic area). I was surprised to find that when I was in the carribean with my Kindle the 3G web browser worked.
    I’d guess the limitation will be similar on the new one but allow it when connected over WiFi. I have to say that except in a dire emergency I’d prefer to use my phone.

  2. I’m also pretty concerned by this, *if* it is free worldwide 3G for web browsing (webkit’ll mean its very usable) that makes it worth the extra £40. If not, then it doesn’t – I’ll catch my paper subscription from my wifi at home in the morning-presumably they deliver very early; if I desperately want a book then *everywhere* has wifi.
    I hope Amazon clarify this soon.

    Also for 3G emails it’d be nice to know, although I can’t send attachments, if I can receive them – e.g. for a pdf.

    Even with just wifi it’s a cool piece of kit – I’ll be getting one. I’m looking forward to getting back into reading!

  3. Amazon sent this email in (rapid) response to this question:

    “Thank you for contacting amazon about the new Kindle. The new Kindle uses a new experimental web browser based on the industry-leading open source Web browser engine, WebKit. This means the updated browser is faster and easier to navigate. As it is an experimental feature, not all websites can be accessed through the Kindle device. The 3G will remain free and if it were to change, the information will be on the Amazon website.
    “Also you stated you are concerned over “You may use the wireless connectivity provided by us only in connection with the Service. You may not use the wireless connectivity for any other purpose” in Amazon’s terms and conditions. This is in regards to using the browser for any other purpose other than browsing. It will not have the same capabilities as the browser on your home computer, so any attachments can only be transferred to your Kindle device, as long as they are formatted to PDF, and cannot be opened on the Kindle device if you are successful in logging onto your googlemail.
    “It supports JavaScript, SSL and cookies, but does not support media plug-ins (Flash, Shockwave, etc.) or Java applets.
    “The web browser is not available in some international countries. However, most customers can access Wikipedia while outside the UK.
    “For further information about the web browser and other experimental features on Kindle, please see our Help page:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200504480

    I don’t like the phrase “3G will remain free and if it were to change, the information will be on the Amazon website”, hardly fills you with confidence. The part about attachments is even woollier – utterly bemused about that! Unfortunately this was sent from an email address which I couldn’t reply directly too, so I’ve had to send of another generic email for further clarification…

  4. A much clearer second response:

    “We do not expect to introduce fees for using the 3G network. Of course, as my colleague mentioned, it might be subject to changes. However, as you probably know, Customers who purchased Kindles of the Amazon.com have been enjoying free access to the Whispernet within the US for almost 3 years.
    “In regards to the browser – access to some websites might be limited as the browser might not be able to render the pages correctly. However, Kindle itself would not prevent you from connecting to any website.
    “While you can browse different websites, you would not be able to download any attachments. If for example you’d like to download the .pdf file while accessing your e-mail account, you’d have to save this attachment using your computer and transfer to Kindle using the USB cable.
    “I hope the above is of help. If you have any further questions please contact us at the following URL:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/contact-us/general-questions.html
    Thank you for your interest in Kindle!”

  5. I have many pdf files on my computer which I understand can be transferred and read on the Kindle..

    My question is that many of those pdf documents have links to web sites that is truly part of reading those pdf documents…. so WILL THE KINDLE be able to access those links while I am reading those pdf documents?

    I look forward to your reply.
    Thanks,
    Charlie

  6. For me “Free 3G global web browsing” could be either a deal maker or breaker. From reading their T & Cs and subsequent customer service replies It sounds like they reserve the right to charge for this service in the future at their discretion or turn it off entirely if they choose to do so.. doesn’t induce me to spend my hard earned cash I am afraid…

  7. It seems clear to me. As the response from Amazon said, it’s free, it has been free for some years now, they don’t expect that to change, but they can’t promise it won’t. I don’t know how Amazon could reasonably be expected to make such a promise: unlimited, forever free 3G?

    I have the answer I sought. For an extra $50, I’ll get free (for the foreseeable future) perhaps decently useful (we’ll find out) web browsing over 3G. Seems like a great deal to me! You can pay $50 in data chages in a few months.

  8. Hi all – many thanks for these posts, think I’ll spend the extra £40 on the 3g version now, even if the browsing maybe curtailed in the future..

  9. Thanks Andy, for the post and the time you had spent on behalf of me. You conversations with amazon, made me come to the similar conclusion as “rc” in the above post.

    If it can be used few years, it is worth $50 extra paid.
    The risk of the webkit being poor can be annulled as the market is heating up now and they cannot afford to make mistakes or have dis-satisfied customers. So they will be quick to respond and fix any issues.

  10. It appears that the website text has changed suggesting that the webkit browser will only be able to be used for free over wifi…howcan they just change their sales pitch after I have bought the product….anyone else concerned now…..golook for yourself.

  11. I am still seeing the browser available for 3G…. I will paste what I copied off of the Amazon site. Please post where you read that it has changed for the newest generation.

    “New WebKit-Based Browser
    Kindle’s new web browser is based on WebKit to provide a better web browsing experience. Now it’s easier than ever to find the information you’re looking for right from your Kindle. Experimental web browsing is free to use over 3G or Wi-Fi. The experimental web browser is currently not available for some customers outside the U.S. Check your country.”

  12. We should keep focus not on the reader cost but the books. The reader is a minor one time purchase. Overpriced ebooks is where the retailers make money. Why do ebooks cost so much more than the paperback version? Why can I share a paperback book but not an ebook? Until this situation is improved this avid reader is sticking to paper.

  13. Hello – I live in Canada and want to purchase Kindle. Now, will I have the same choice of books as the US customers? In case of Barns & Noble’s Nook the non-US selection is dramatically slimmer due to copy rights.

    Thank y’all

  14. hi. i am writing this on my 2nd generation kindle. i too live in canada. the selection is the same as u.s. customers. i web browse often with my kindle, using advanced mode and turning javascript on. you cant do your web banking obviously due to lack of 128 bit security on the kindle, and it not having a supported browser. if you wamt to read pdf docs, the text is almost unreadable as it is tiny. what worked for me was that i downloaded mobi pocket creator, which is free, to my computer, and converted my pdfs to the prc format kindle uses. then drag and drop the prc file to my kindle for reading. the result looks fantastic.

    hope any of this helps.
    walter

  15. Hi All,

    Does anybody know how long is the wait for Kindle 3 now?

    I’ve ordered mine a few days ago and besides the automated confirmation I haven’t received the email from Amazon with the estimate waiting time yet.

    Thank you,

    Marek

  16. I ordered mine on the 11th Sept. Learnt by email last friday that they expected to despatch on 29th Sept and that this will be confirmed nearer the time.

  17. @Kevin, Ange and Nick (and anyone else interested in using the kindle for browsing over 3g for free), Jus took this from their web site:

    New WebKit-Based Browser – Free 3G web browsing (experimental)

    I also saved the web page as a PDF.

    James

  18. The reason e-books are more expensive than one would imagine (considering the lack of materials, overheads, storage, delivery etc.) in the UK at least is because in Blighty books are tax free, but computer software isn’t.
    So e-books have to charge an extra 17.5%.

    doris

  19. Hi everyone,

    I am trying to decide if this is a good Christmas gift for someone. HUGE reader. Prefers paper but quickly running out of space. However, would like to update their personal blog from an ereader device. Does anyone know if this can be done with the web browser? Thanks so much!

    (Technologically challenged so sorry if it was already confirmed/denied and it went over my head.)

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