NEW YORK (AP) -- Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) has launched a service to help schools and workplaces manage Kindles used by students and employees -- sending out e-books or blocking certain types of activities, for example.
Called Whispercast, the free service lets businesses and schools buy and distribute books and documents to Kindles over a wireless Internet connection. This means teachers can send out books to students in their class, and businesses can send out training materials, schedules, and other documents, Amazon said. Schools can also block Kindles from accessing the Web and can prevent students from being able to make purchases on the device.
Amazon said the service lets administrators register students and employees to their organizations' Kindle devices, assigning them into groups for classes, grade levels or corporate departments. They can then distribute content to these groups or configure the settings on the devices from one location.
Whispercast will let Amazon penetrate educational institutions and businesses more efficiently, said Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. Many schools and individual workers are already using Kindles and Kindle Fires for schoolwork and office work. With Whispercast, she added, employers can "have more control and confidence" over how the gadgets are used.
Amazon is betting that Whispercast will be useful for businesses whose employers bring their own devices to work, a growing trend especially among younger, mobile workers. Getting more Kindles into schools, meanwhile, will mean more teachers and students purchasing content from Amazon, whether in the form of textbooks or classic literature.
Jay Marine, vice president at Amazon Kindle, said student and teacher responses to the devices "reinforced our belief that in education everything will go digital, it's just a matter of timing."