Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will announce the global launch of the Kindle Mobile Learning Initiative on Wednesday, June 20 at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
Described in a Friday afternoon press release as a “public-private partnership with Amazon and the U.S. government,” the program is designed to create “a global e-reader program that introduces aspects of U.S. society and culture directly to young people, students, and international audiences in new ways and expands English language learning opportunities worldwide.”
Now, tech journalist Rob Pegoraro says that press conference has been canceled. I haven't seen any official word as to why, but lots of bloggers are upset at the amount of money being spent on these devices. Here's what PaidContent said about the deal on Friday:
According to the information we have so far, the State Department would spend $2.29 million in the first year of the program, including a purchase of 2,500 Kindles, and the maximum cost of the program over five years would be $16.5 million, including a maximum of 7,000 Kindles per year. As I reported earlier this week, the potential program’s non-device costs are substantial but we don’t know yet which e-books will be preloaded on the Kindles.
Besides the huge amount of money changing hands, the big problem with distributing Kindles is that it locks the recipients into Amazon.com's proprietary Kindle e-book format, making it highly unlikely that the new Kindle owners will purchase or download books from any other online e-bookseller. This is a story to keep an eye on this week, for sure.
UPDATE 2:45 PM: Now, the official word is that the press conference has been postponed, with no rescheduled date announced.