Amazon has just announced a new tool which will let schools and institutions manage their Kindles from a single webpage. It's called Kindle Whispercast, and once all the features sink in it is going to seriously undercut whatever lead B&N has in the institutional market.
As most IT departments will tell you, there are a lot of hassles to maintaining a fleet of gadgets. Whether we're talking about ereaders, tablets, smartphones, or computers, there are certain issues which cause headaches. They range from setting up network credentials, loading apps and content, pushing out updates, and more. (Try doing this across hundreds of devices and then you'll see the headaches.)
B&N tried to solve some of those problems by making tech support really easy for schools to access. They can get immediate help which is only an email or phone call away. Amazon has come up with a better idea.
Amazon has just solved a lot of the headaches. Using Kindle Whispercast, a single sysadmin can now setup, maintain, and manage all the Kindles in use at the organization from a single webpage.
Whispercast will enable them to do everything from the initial setup, push out the Wifi network name and password, and send out content to either single Kindle, a group, or the collection as a whole. Whispercast will even secure the Kindles by blocking reregistration, allowing the admins to require a password. Admins can even block Facebook and Twitter integration, web browsing, or access to the Kindle Store.
What's more, Whispercast can also work with Kindles registered to other accounts. If a student brings in their own Kindle, the Whispercast admin can support it with many of the same features like sending content to it as part of a mass distribution. Whispercast also supports the Kindle apps as well as the Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon has even announced plans to let admins buy apps and push them out to specific devices.
All in all, this is a major update to the Kindle platform and it is going to turn the institutional market on its head. They have once again shown that they are the single best company when it comes to developing an ereader platform.