Amazon Kindle FreeTime: An IT Management Tool?

Apple iPad has encouraged a cozier relationship between the consumer electronics giant and business users, paving the way for companies to authorize the use of tablet computers and even issue iPads to employees. And Apple, in recent years, has come to embrace this new market with tools such as the Apple Configurator.

But plenty of other tablet vendors are eyeing the lucrative business market, too. Can Amazon's new generation of Kindle Fire HD tablets make inroads into the market that has so far been cornered by Apple? The company's content strategy certainly has placed it in a first mover position. And here's a look at some potential key features that could win over managed service providers, including a brand new one called FreeTime.

Email. After all, email is one of the top applications that business users use on tablets. Here's what Amazon says about corporate email on Kindle Fire's second generation: "Read email and attachments, manage calendars, and sync contacts on the go. Kindle Fire HD features full support for Exchange-based accounts making it easy to stay connected when you step away from the office."

Sounds good, but what else? There's also the ability to email yourself PDFs, something that Kindle has always supported. But you can also email Word docs and other attachments directly to your Kindle or access them via your Amazon Cloud Drive. The Kindle Fire second generation is also the first Kindle to with webcam and video conferencing capabilities. Amazon is promoting preinstalled Skype on the device.

But perhaps one of the most intriguing potential new features for MSPs and business users is something Amazon is actually pitching at parents. Called FreeTime, it's a new service designed to create multiple user profiles on a single Kindle device. The administrator can then choose what books, apps, games, videos and other content that each user can access. Parents, (aka administrators) can "set daily limits for Kindle Fire HD use or restrict certain categories" while leaving unlimited time for other categories."

So imagine a business that allows access to "fun" applications, but only for a limited time each day. The rest of the time users could get unlimited access to more business-oriented apps.

Is Amazon pushing these features to the business community? Not yet, but the FreeTime functionality certainly could be applied for business situations. And for small business customers who don't want to pay a premium for iPad can get a Kindle Fire tablet for less and enjoy some control over the end-user experience. What do you think? Would you recommend this to any of your tablet-coveting customers?


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