Wednesday, June 13, 2012
eNews: State Department May Spend Up to $16.5 Million for Kindles and eBooks
The most talked-about story for much of Monday afternoon was a report from NextGov on a pending no-bid State Department contract for Amazon to fill "an immediate need for approximately 2,500 ereaders and 50 titles of content" with Kindle Touch 3G units to be "used as a classroom tool for English language programs globally." State's acquisition managers claimed they had "identified the Amazon Kindle as the only e-Reader on the market that meets the Government’s needs, and Amazon as the only company possessing the essential capabilities required by the Government."
Under scrutiny the story changed several times (as evident by paidContent's report, rewritten to reflect the day's updates), and as it stands now the official line is that the State Department is "considering" awarding Amazon a contract that "could include as many as 35,000 Kindle e-Readers over a 5-year, $16.5 million" agreement.
Initial reports gave the impression that State would spend $6,600 per Kindle for 2,500 units. With fuller explanation, the math makes more sense, once some assumptions are factored in. A revised NextGov storycites a previous contract involving Amazon Kindles as costing $163 per device--State insists they have negotiated a bulk discount on the units. If the government acquires the the maximum number of Kindles (35,000), pre-loaded with 50 titles on each units, that works out to $5.7 million for the devices and roughly $6 for each ebook, with some additional security and CMS features. It is interesting that both Amazon and the State Department felt the need to issue multiple clarifications, and we suspect the story is still developing. (The no-bid document also indicates that "prior to making contract award under this acquisition, the Contracting Officer shall evaluate the sole source proposal received...and make a fair and reasonable price determination."
Though we have not seen it reported elsewhere yet, the document for "justification and approval" of the no-bid contract indicates that State requires that "the device must include a front light feature"--which implies that Amazon has already confirmed to the government, and State will purchase, a new model not yet on the market that will mimic Nook's recently-introduced "Glow Light" feature.