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State Dept. Cancels $16.5M Kindle Contract 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-ereading-for-you dept.
itwbennett writes "The U.S. Department of State will be canceling a $16.5 million Amazon order that included 2,500 Kindle Touch e-readers, 50 pieces of content, and 'required provision of a secure, centrally managed content distribution and management platform.' The department said that it will be re-examining its requirements for the program. Those requirements had called for a single-function device with text-to-speech, a 'battery life of no less than about 8 hours of continuous reading or approximately 7.5 hours of video playback,' and free Wi-Fi. The Kindle was the only project that met that original set of requirements."
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State Dept. Cancels $16.5M Kindle Contract

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  • Spec'd the Kindle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhath (637240) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @09:33AM (#41045059)
    So the requirements were for a Kindle and only a Kindle? Nice try by someone ready to retire and move to private industry.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @10:13AM (#41045333) Journal

    > canceling a $16.5 million Amazon order

    Yey! The government just reduced its spending by .00037% this year!

    It still continues to borrow 9/10ths of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier every day.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @10:13AM (#41045335)

    It said "or," as in "8 hours of continuous reading or approximately 7.5 hours of video playback."

    I suspect that the challenge here had to do with procurement rules. It's against the rules to design an RFP or RFQ in such a way that only one vendor can fulfill the requirements. It sometimes happens that the requirements are immutable and the RFP ends up being built that way, but that has to be proven, and I find it difficult to imagine that the Kindle is such a totally mind-blowing device that a Nook, for example, couldn't actually meet their needs as well. (I own a Kindle, and love it, mind you...it's just that the Kindle hasn't been the unapproachable paramount that the iPad is in the tablet market, in my opinion.) So I think someone had a predilection for Kindles, wrote the spec that way, and is now getting bitten by that no-no.

  • $6600 per Kindle! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rollingcalf (605357) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @10:49AM (#41045601)

    $16.5 million divided by 2500 = $6600.

    Even though that includes some content and services on top of the Kindle itself, I don't see how it reaches $6600 per unit without most of it being waste and kickbacks.

  • by tomhath (637240) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @01:15PM (#41046839)
    The goal is lock-in. First purchase is a balancing act, small enough to get through without too much attention, but big enough that any follow-on has to be for the same equipment. Typically the follow-ons are worth several times the initial contract, and are negotiated separately.
  • by kcitren (72383) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @01:48PM (#41047053)
    Also, the system is not tied to the Kindle. It needs to be able to push content to iPhones / iPads, Android devices, Blackberries, Windows and Apple PCs over a global 3g network. Hell, the global 3G network is going to cost more than 16M over the life of the contract. According to Amazons 3g coverage maps, they've got the North America, most of Europe covered (except for Belarus), India, Japan, Australia, and a few spots in South America, the Middle East, China, and SE asia.
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:57PM (#41049131)

    I would also argue that the ramifications of the latter are far worse than the former.

    I would argue that they are almost the same thing... a corporation is just an extension of government. It gets it's charter from the government, and it can only exist because of government. The government can make almost completely arbitrary rules to regulate the corporation, and in fact the very laws that create the corporation are themselves a form of regulation.

    Then the corporation uses a portion of it's revenue to lobby the government. This is similar to the way that government-funded and government-mandated public unions use a portion of their revenue to lobby the government. In my opinion we need to cut off this kind of feedback cycle... it leads to exactly the kind of problems that you describe.

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