At last week’s massive Kindle launch I didn’t get a chance to see if the new eInk eReader models still had the “experimental” web browser since the demo units were so closely guarded. However, Amazon’s customers have not let up on asking about it — no surprise given how popular the feature is — and a customer service rep finally answered the question.
Yes, the Kindle Touch and Touch 3G still have a browser. But on the 3G version, users won’t be able to use the browser unless they’re connected to Wi-Fi. Bummer.
We apologize for the confusion. Our new Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store, download books and periodicals, and access Wikipedia – all over 3G or Wi-Fi. Experimental web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi.
Our Kindle Keyboard 3G will continue to offer experimental web browsing over 3G or Wi-Fi.
I admit, I don’t find this completely surprising. After all, that 3G data is touted as “free” for Kindle owners but isn’t exactly free. The cost of the 3G is taken out of the money Amazon gets when you buy a Kindle book. It’s only a small amount of data to begin with, so it’s not costing Amazon much, I assume. But if you’re using the 3G to get on the web, you’re not paying for that connectivity.
So far it’s probably not been much of a problem because the Kindle’s web browser isn’t exactly easy to use or anyone’s preferred surfing method. It’s useful in a pinch, though. I had a friend whose laptop died on her while traveling overseas. She used her Kindle 3G to check Gmail and was very grateful for the ability to do so.
My guess is that either customers used the browser over 3G more than Amazon anticipated, so they’re cutting off that avenue now that they can, or the browser on the Touch is better than the one on the older versions. It makes me wonder if the Kindle Touch’s interface is built on top of Android just like the Fire and the touch Nook. If the experimental browser is essentially the stock Android browser, than even with an eInk screen it’s a more usable app.
Kindle owners, would this be a dealbreaker for you? How often do you use the Kindle’s browser?