Has Amazon Ended Support for Older Kindle Models?

Don't look now, but it seems Amazon has quietly ended support for its oldest Kindle models.

Numerous Kindle owners are reporting on Mobileread that their old-model Kindles can no longer connect to Amazon's servers over 3G, and in several cases can't be registered with Amazon.

The Kindles in question include the Kindle DX, the original Kindle, and the Kindle 2. All were updated with the latest official software, including last year's security update, and yet they can't download ebooks from the Kindle Store.

As one owner put it:

Now that I've performed a factory reset on my K2, I'm experiencing the same problem. I've got software v2.5.8 and the Kindle Services update installed and 5 bars of coverage that allows me to browse the Kindle Store, but the device refuses to register ("Unable to connect at this time").

A Kindle DX owner reported that they could not connect to the Kindle Store, and then could not register their DX after a factory reset.

Edit: It's also worth noting that several Kindle owners on Amazon's support forums are calling BS on this post because they can still download ebooks to their older Kindles. (Thanks, Albert!)

Edit: And a reader has left a comment reporting that his original Kindle went through the same cycle as the Kindle DX mentioned above. (Thanks, Tom!)

Amazon has not confirmed that they've stopped supporting the older Kindles; instead, Kindle CS suggested that the devices "may be too old to connect to our network" and pushed owners to buy a newer Kindle as a replacement.

At least one Kindle owner wasn't going to take this lying down, and he sent an email to Jeff Bezos.

Here's the response from Amazon's executive customer service:

As mentioned, hardware updates exist for a very genuine reason. When a new device is developed, it goes through rigorous tests and quality checks. The final version of the device is released to public only when the vendor is fully satisfied with the product’s functionality and stability. When the devices are used by customers in a real-time environment, they may come across several areas of improvement and same gets reported back to the developers. Sometimes latest versions of applications will need new processes and tools to work properly, which the developers constantly include with the new software updates. However, in the occasion that the software is not enough , the needs of the apps are going to overdrive the capacity of the product, causing the malfunction of the it. To address those issues, the developers try to support those devices as much as possible until the customer needs are major than the device capabilities, then a new device with better qualities will be lunch so that users can have a convenient and well supported interface with the product.

Douglas, I’m sorry for any disappointment caused and appreciate your understanding. While we won’t be able to comment further on this matter, we’re always happy to help if you have any other questions - you can click a button to contact us by e-mail or phone from any Help page on our website.

I learned two things from this statement. The first is that Amazon's executive customer service is staffed by engineers (read it again and you'll see what I mean).

This statement also indirectly confirms that Amazon is no longer supporting the older models, even though it doesn't want to come out and say so.

While it is understandable that Amazon doesn't want to support the nine-year-old original Kindle or the Kindle DX, which launched in May 2009, Amazon still owes its customers an honest explanation.

The hardware still works (obviously), so if Amazon no longer wants to support the older devices on its platform then it should say so. This underhanded and secretive termination won't cut it.

Amazon was contacted for a statement on this story but has not responded.

Amazon has replied with a statement which doesn't match with their actions: "No we haven’t ended support.  Our Customer Service team is working directly with this customer to troubleshoot."

O O O

Fortunately for Kindle owners, they can still use their device in spite of Amazon. So long as a device is registered, it can still read ebooks bought in the Kindle store.

Owners of older Kindles can use their PC to download ebooks from the Amazon website, and then transfer those ebooks to the older Kindle.  this is not an ideal solution but it does work.

thanks, Darryl, for the tip!

image by Paul Jerry

 

About Nate Hoffelder (11211 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

20 Comments on Has Amazon Ended Support for Older Kindle Models?

  1. The original Paperwhite stopped getting software updates at least over a year ago, however, a year ago it was four-year-old hardware. The device can still buy e-books from the store but it will not get new features.
    This is a common occurrence with technology, so it makes sense that the older software eventually will stop working. It is amazing that nine-year-old hardware still works.

  2. I think it would be better if the published formal end-of-life dates and respected those. I’d be happier knowing my 2014 kindle will be good until 2019 than wondering if it is already out-of-support, or might be any day now. Armed with that knowledge, I’d buy an upgrade at a time that suited my budget (and when it was on sale of course :).

  3. I don’t see much controversy in telling someone a nine-year-old device is out of support. I do think it could be handled much better.

  4. I don’t have one of these devices eitehr but am concerned at the precedent this sets. It seems that devices already registered can still browse the store, download books etc. The problem seems to be that they cannot be registered. This of course means if you have bought one, no doubt very cheaply, you will be unable to register it, so its functionality will be limited. It also means if you want to sell one, its value has just plunged or gone altogether.

    It is also interesting that people report Amazon Customer Service first suggesting a factory reset. This, of course, means that if your device was registered you will not be able to re-register it.

    I can understand why Amazon doesn’t want to support these devices indefinitely. After all, they don’t even support kf8 let alone kfx. However, I don’t like them prematurely stopping access to otherwise still functional devices in an evident phasing out type move, with no announcement or explanation.

    I love Amazon, but this is an example of them at their worst.

    The fact that registered devices do still work obviously means that the hardware is still functional on the system as it stands.

  5. You can add KIndle 1 to the list. I have one. It was working about 6 months ago, but it stopped connecting to the store. I had not de-registered at that point. Dumb Me, I did a factory reset all on my own in an attempt to restore functionality. It still connects to the wireless network, but then after a few minutes of that, ‘cannot connect, try later’, Manage Your Content and Devices still shows it as ‘registered’. Can I still download from there and side-load? Don’t know, but probably not.

    These things cost as much as today’s Oasis, and came with the promise that it had ‘free wireless for life of the device’. This is, as they say in software, a ‘regression’, and in customer service, a ‘broken promise’.

    I don’t understand what support Amazon thinks they need to provide, beyond continuing to provision low speed 3G. Nobody expects software updates, if there’s hardware failure, nobody expects a replacement, customer service can just say they cannot help, or point out you can get $5 for the thing and a $20 towards a new one.

    Boo. Hope they get enough complaints to reverse this.

    • Thanks for the info.

      There are people nitpicking on the point about Kindles which had “stopped connecting to the store” while still registered. You’re the third case I have heard about, and that shows my original story is arguably still correct.

      • It seems clear these devices cannot now be registered/re-registered. Also, it seems some registered devices clearly can still download content. Others with registered devices are having problems, and we can’t currently be sure okf the cause. What does seem clear is that if your device is registered the worst thing you can do is a factory reset.

        The fact that we have to guess the parameters of the problem and are still uncertain is testament to just how unsatisfactory Amazon’s failure to announce these changes is.

  6. Interesting, I have the original Paperwhite, it still works as well as the day it arrived, the battery is still going great and have decided to hang on to this perfectly functional e-reader till it gives up the ghost or the battery dies and even then, from YouTube videos, it seems like the battery can be replaced with relative ease. However, reading the above and the comments I will be a little hesitant about doing any factory resets.

  7. Not surprised. Disappointed but not surprised.

    This is another reason why people should not “buy” content crippled with DRM. Some people might say this is a hardware support issue, not a DRM issue, but I argue that at its core, this IS a DRM issue.

    Without DRM, it doesn’t matter if the company stops supporting the device … you can download and sideload whatever you want on your device, without regard to the Amazon store. (Unless Amazon issues a remote kill switch, which they are effectively doing by cutting off store access.)

    Without DRM, they would be able to store their own backup copies and format shift as needed. No forced upgrades. Use Calibre or an online service to change your file to whatever format you want and then you can read on the device of your choosing, without regard for whether Amazon supports it.

    Combine this with Amazon’s new format that (so far) cannot be converted with Calibre and you have an Amazon that is locking down content and enables them to put customers on the “forced upgrade” path whether their devices work or not. Somebody has been taking notes from Microsoft and Apple.

  8. The problem is not that the Kindle 2nd generation devices no longer work, it is that the formerly open browsers are now limited to Amazon and a couple of sites. My Kindle DXG no longer has an open browser. My Kindle Keyboard still does. The only difference seems to be that Amazon is no longer allowing an open browser on the older devices (which is the case with more recent Kindles).

  9. I did not interpret that CS reply the same way you did. It’s poorly written and we also don’t know the context (what exactly was the question asked?). But I took it as “with these older models who knows what the problem is?” Not saying that they are unwilling to solve it, they’re just saying it might be very difficult.

    The impression that I get is not some policy change, just one or two people having problems with their devices at the same time.

  10. Many of those commenting on Moblereads are very experienced ebook reader users. They know of what they write. Amazon has made changes to pre-K3 Kindles.

  11. It appears that the problem has now been fixed. A Mobileread post reports successful registration of a K2 previously unable to be re-registered. There is also some speculation as to whether the problem was a simple glitch in Amazon’s systems or perhaps a test of how many people still cared about these devices. In any case, it appears the problem is solved for now. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the posts on Mobileread and the story on this blog had something to do with the restoration of the ability to register these devices.

    • I read that as well. I am waiting for confirmation before updating the post.

    • The second guess is just unfounded paranoia. It doesn’t remotely make sense. How many people could there possibly be that want to register a 1st or 2nd gen Kindle in a specific 2-3 day interval?

      This is no test. There is no conspiracy.

      Let’s step back and face reality. The first two gens of Kindle have been left way behind in software updates. It’s at the point where they have trouble behaving as expected with the Amazon ecosystem. Yet still Amazon continues to offer support on the cs side for those still using them. Something good to be said about that, and nothing bad at all.

  12. My DX browser is still limited. I still get the “Basic Web is unable to make a secure connection at this time.” message for most sites other than Amazon. Weirdly, I can connect to CNN but not gmail. No problem with my Kindle 3s, sitting right next to the DXG

  13. tired, I agree with you. I wasn’t complaining about Amazon. They’ve given me great service over the years, and being able to use the DXG browser to check my email was an unexpected perk. I was just trying to find out if Amazon has indeed limited the K2 era browser, or if my DXG is just wonky. The device is still registered and connects and downloads from Amazon without any problem.

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