Thursday, September 29, 2011

Clarification needed from Amazon re Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi's 3G-experimental web browsing feature or omission - Update

KINDLE TOUCH 3G/WIFI - Is free 3G web browsing now disabled?  Or is it just a product page error?

That's an important question for many in the Amazon Kindle Forums currently and in comments to this blog, as people are trying to make decisions on which model to purchase and that would be based on features or lack of features.

NOTE:  See follow-up posting on this with added update.

 In the product page wording for Kindle 3 (Keyboard) 3G/WiFi and for Kindle 4 Touch 3G/WiFi - Amazon's  presents the older keyboard Kindle (3rd Generation) as still having free 3G web browsing -- but on the product page for the new Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi (4th Generation), there is wording that indicates that free 3G web browsing is not enabled for the Kindle 3G Touch.  That wording is probably inaccurate, but we can't know, and it is Amazon's official presentation of features for the new Kindle.

  Since that would be a huge change from what has been true for years 2007 until September 2011, it's unlikely that Amazon would make that kind of change without saying something about it.

  Forum members have asked Kindle Customer Support about this and received reassurances that nothing's changed.  I'll include Kindle Customer Support's replies as reported by Kindle forum members and show the gist of the conversations there.  People just need to know which situation is true.

  Wording on free 3G experimental web browsing has been somewhat ambiguous for a year on the product pages for each country for which that is officially enabled.   The 3G pages for those countries  have said that this feature is available via WiFi.  However, it has never said "available ONLY on WiFi" and the feature HAS been available.  I've no doubt Amazon would want or need to discourage indiscriminate use of the 3G web browsing, and I think that's why it -has- been ambiguous.  Their entire business is based on clear communications, and they usually do well on that.

Below you'll see the stance taken by a few Kindle customer representatives today when customers called them - the gist of it is that 3G experimental web browser is active and is one of two methods.

 However, worse wording was found today by "mrb" under the "Battery Life" section of the product page for the Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi
' Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store, downloading content, and web browsing (browsing available only in Wi-Fi mode). '
  That is definitely the first time I've seen the word "only" used on a product page in connection with a 3G Kindle model and WiFi and web browsing.

EARLIER, I had responded to a number of forum posts, with the following, having closely watched Amazon wording in the last year (since June 2010):

  "I'll point out one thing.  I'm sure they ARE de-emphasizing and discouraging [possible overuse of] 3G web browsing, but for the last year, the K3 descriptions for each country where free 3G web browsing IS allowed has always had this sentence without the word "also."  It has been just a declaration it's available via WiFi."

  And that's what the customer reps have said today in response to many called. 
  However, that written wording by Amazon on its product page would have had to be approved by someone and it can't be ignored when making a purchase decision.  I have asked Amazon about this as well but received no answer at this point.   I had explained I'd need to write about this as questions were coming in.

Here is the second page of just one of the Kindle forum threads today, this one showing the pro and con gist of the forum discussions and the alert by 'mrb' about the unusual, more definite, product-page wording that now includes the word "only"
' Posted on Sep 28, 2011 6:49:01 PM PDT
Brian Staff says:
I am wondering about this too, but after studying the language, I think you're reading too much into it.

"Kindle Touch 3G's experimental web browser is based on WebKit. It's easy to find the information you're looking for right from your Kindle Touch 3G. Experimental web browsing is available via Wi-Fi."

I think the intention here, is that if you want to browse the web, then you need to do via WiFi...(or 3G)

Here's hoping a good reviewer can confirm that before I place my order...

Posted on Sep 28, 2011 6:49:36 PM PDT
dorsie says:
Shouldn't someone call Kindle CS first to verify before everyone cancels their orders? 1-866-321-8851

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2011 6:52:54 PM PDT
Kindle booklover says:
I disagree. If it was available via both methods, they wouldn't have listed only one of them.

Posted on Sep 28, 2011 7:00:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author 18 hours ago
Kindle booklover says:
Sorry, folks, but I think this clinches it. The webkit description on the current (k3 3G) page is worded differently. In my opinion, the wording change for the new one is very deliberate and does means browsing will only be thru WiFi.

Kindle Keyboard:

WebKit-Based Browser
KindleKeyboard features an experimental web browser based on WebKit to provide a better web browsing experience. Now it's easier than ever to find the information you're looking for right from your Kindle. Experimental web browsing is FREE. (my caps)

WebKit-Based Browser Kindle Touch 3G's experimental web browser is based on WebKit. It's easy to find the information you're looking for right from your Kindle Touch 3G. Experimental web browsing is available via Wi-Fi.

. . .
Posted on Sep 29, 2011 12:18:02 AM PDT
triplesss says:
I want web browsing via 3G! I'll cancel my hasty order for the Kindle Touch.

. . .
Posted on Sep 29, 2011 7:42:47 AM PDT
Bryan L. Wheeler says:

Has anyone called Kindle Customer Support and asked them about this change in wording? Honestly, the free 3G service was never really meant to be used for any kind of serious web browsing, even if  "serious web browsing" to some only meant simply checking emails, etc...
. . .
Amazon obviously has had to cut a few corners to bring these newest devices to market as competitively as possible. I appreciate the vast improvements made to these new Kindles, and understand (and appreciate) why certain corners were cut to make them affordable, and appealing to as many customers, new and old, as possible.

So far, Amazon hasn't really made a truly bad decision in its steady march towards eReader domination. I think Amazon knows what it's doing, and I think Amazon knows all too well that, in the long run, "free" 3G service for web browsing is not all that important (or practical) to the vast majority of its Kindle e-ink device customers. :)

Posted on Sep 29, 2011 7:50:18 AM PDT
triplesss says:
I just called KCS and a lady insisted (as I questioned her familiarity with Kindle Touch) "...we are trained in this...." She says the experimental Web browser is available via 3G and/or wifi. Her explanation was that the descriptor was applicable as well to Kindle Touch without 3G and that was why it cites the wifi capability.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2011 7:54:36 AM PDT
Bryan L. Wheeler says:
That's kind of what I figured, but it's nice to have it clarified.

Posted on Sep 29, 2011 10:31:21 AM PDT
T. Roberson says:

I emailed Amazon support yesterday, concerned about this apparent downgrading, here is the reply:


I'm sorry for any misunderstanding.

On Kindle Touch you can access experimental features including Text-to-Speech, MP3 Player, and the experimental web browser.

Thus, I can assure you that web browsing is available in Kindle Touch 3G like normal 3G kindle key board.
. . .

So there you have it, web browsing is certainly available on the Kindle Touch 3G over 3G, just as on the previous-generation ("Kindle Keyboard 3G"). The OP should close this thread to end further confusion.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2011 10:35:33 AM PDT
Kessa says:
Also, I called them today (twice - the 1rst time, I forgot to be specific & ask if it you can use the Experimental Browser through just the 3G & not need to use the wi-fi). They did say that yes, you can use the 3G Experimental Browser on the Kindle Touch 3G. =)

I am glad that we both contacted them, the more the better I feel. LOL!

Posted on Sep 29, 2011 12:42:45 PM PDT
mrb says:
If you read the charging specs for the 3g touch you will find this:
A single charge lasts up to two months with wireless off based upon a half-hour of daily reading time. Keep wireless always on and it lasts for up to 3 weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store, downloading content, and web browsing (browsing available only in Wi-Fi mode).
Apparently you can only use the browser in Wi-Fi mode

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2011 1:32:11 PM PDT
Kessa says:
I see that - obviously, KCS was wrong. =)

. . .
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2011 2:08:08 PM PDT
Kindle booklover says:
I'm gonna say it--I told you so! (You everyone, not mrb.) I worked as an editor for a long time and wording changes like those in the webkit description are done very deliberately to subtly indicate a change that they don't want to advertise openly.

Posted on Sep 29, 2011 2:12:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author 46 minutes ago
Sophia Burns says:
I thought so too... guess I won't switch after all then. Hope they won't take it away from the KK... it's one feature I probably won't ever need... but it's SO good to have! '

So, it would appear that this was possibly or probably an error made on the product page for Kindle Touch-3G/WiFi and if that's so, then the wording should be changed, as it's Amazon's official presentation of the product and features that are the basis for purchases.

  Customer support responses can't supersede what Amazon itself writes, as we make buying decisions on those pages, and the transaction acts as a type of Agreement.  It just must be an error by the writer(s) for that page.

  However, if the error turned out to be in not advising Kindle Customer Support, then customers would  need to hear about it before deciding which Kindle to buy.  The Kindle Keyboard 3G/Wi clearly allows the feature, while it's not clear by the actual product marketing page what the situation is for the new Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi.   Actually, it IS "clear" but I think the official product page wording must be wrong, considering what so many Kindle Support reps are saying in rather firm ways.

I hope that Amazon will do something to clarify this, as buying decisions are being made by everyone.

Update - The Amazon UK table of free 3G web browsing in some countries (61 or so) is now using the words "Kindle Keyboard" rather than the Kindle 3G model.
 But they are not slated for the Kindle Touches at the moment (usually true when a new model is released). Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. 3G browsing is in fact one of my most anticipated functionality on the new Kindle Touch. With a touch screen and free 3G, it would be a very a great device to get on the web and read on the road. I hope Amazon can correct the product page to confirm its availability soon!

  2. I hate to say it, but forbidding web browsing with 3G does make sense. You're getting 3G for the life of the product for a measly $50 so that Amazon can sell you stuff anywhere, not so you can hang out on Facebook without paying $30+ a month for a data plan (with a two-year contract).

  3. Louis,
    What's interesting is that each customer rep has said it's okay to use the web browsing on Kindle Touch 3G so things are hopeful, though I hope people use mainly text lookups on it, as trying to download webpage images on a complex page has to be costly to Amazon.

    It was Amazon who decided to try doing the free 3G Browsing and last year they advertised it on the front page, so the main thing is that they just communicate it clearly if they don't want that anymore. In the meantime, all their customer reps who've responded today (100% of reports people brought to the forums) have said it's still available even on Touch 3G.

    It's mainly a matter of clarity.

  4. jw,
    I probably replied to you in the wrong thread! :-)
    If it helps, I went to Kindlestore earlier tonight and the first thing that came up was an image of a DX. No idea why. I do know it still sells. Just not at the rate of the smaller, lower-cost and more portable ones. But someday we'll know either way. Good luck!

  5. Andrys,

    I mostly plan to use the 3g browser for emails, nytimes, and my google reader subscriptions - mostly text-heavy websites. My phone is pretty basic so every time I travel, I feel compelled to carry my laptop around and often wifi is spotty at best. Hopefully kindle touch 3g will be my best companion on the road.

    And I took care to visit Kindle 3G's UK product page. It says explicitly that "Experimental web browsing is free to use over 3G or Wi-Fi." (Link:

    I hope the positive answers from CS will be true, though I understand that the official product page contains the most definitive information and reflects a conscientious decision of Amazon to restrict free 3g browsing. I hope this could become clear for all of us soon!


  6. HEY! I just called CS and it is true that 3g web browsing is NOT enabled on the Touch 3G. You have to get the Keyboard 3G to get 3G web browsing. Indeed, the Touch does require WiFi.


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