Whispercast rules the schools!

Whispercast rules the schools!

When I first wrote about Amazon’s Whispercast on October 17, 2012

Amazon revolutionizes mass distribution with Whispercast

I said

“This is the kind of big scale, forward thinking concept that Amazon does well…”

Well, I’m not always right 😉 but according to this

Amazon press release

many learning institutions have adopted this Enterprise management system for Kindle books…honestly, for under three years, I would deem this a massive success.

A couple of stats in the press release:

  • 130 of the 250 largest US school districts are using Whispercast
  • 2,400 higher education organizations use it…including 24 of the 30 largest

That is great market penetration! It’s entirely possible that smaller institutions may not be a good fit for this, so I’m impressed that so many of the large ones are using it.

They’ve also upgraded it to Whispercast 3.0. According to the press release, new features include:

  • Tiered Administration and Group Management – Whispercast administrators now have more control to easily setup organizational hierarchies and permissions, enabling scalable, centralized or delegated control—as well as organize into structures that make the most sense, whether classes, grades, groups, or other.
  • Digital Transition Services – Amazon will now offer Digital Transition Services tailored for K-12 and higher education organizations with named service representatives to assist with onboarding and implementations at-scale, based on best practices.
  • Easier-to-Use Interface – The updated design includes a new step-by-step setup wizard, making it possible for educators to create groups, add and move users, procure digital content and distribute to their organization, without requiring technology training.
  • New Purchasing Options – Whispercast is expanding the payment methods accepted to procure digital content with purchase orders and purchase cards, in addition to credit and gift cards.

Purchase orders are a big deal for this, and gift cards may create some interesting opportunities for student organizations and alumni to contribute.

While this is not a solution for families and other non-Enterprise users, it’s clearly working well for organizations.

I don’t know what kind of income generator it might be for Amazon, but being used by school districts is always a good they are notably not agile. Once you are in, it’s a good bet you’ll stay there, because it is hard for them to change something.

I’ve always thought that Apple survived its early days in part because it was widely adopted by universities (through active effort on Apple’s part).

At the time, local government institutions didn’t really do their own computing all that much: they would get the local university to do it.

So, the court system might have Apples to be compatible with the university.

That, in turn, meant that lawyers and such needed Apples to be compatible with the court system.

Apple obviously got way beyond all that, and became a beloved consumer brand.

In some ways, Amazon is not just the “Everything Store”…it’s the “Everything Strategy”. 😉 They find a good market and go after it.

That’s something Disney has famously done. They’ve found other attractions which are successful, and done their own version. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, for example, is a Disney waterpark…to compete with other waterparks near Disneyworld.

For some people, it wins because it is Disney.

For many people, something wins because it is Amazon.

Angie’s List works?

Amazon recently introduced

Amazon Home Services (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Would I rather book somebody through Amazon, using my regular Amazon payment options?

You betcha!

Do I want Amazon’s “Happiness Guarantee”?

You know it!

Amazon wants to keep me as a “happy customer” (I’ve said before, that’s their most important product). I feel like they are going to make very sure this works before they put it out there.

No, they don’t always do that with every Kindle/Fire feature…but for a service like this? I think it was carefully tested.

We’ll see if it succeeds like Whispercast has…but I love it when Amazon has big ideas, and I love it even more when they work. 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



6 Responses to “Whispercast rules the schools!”

  1. Harold Delk Says:

    Bufo, Saw this article yesterday about PayPal and digital distribution. This post NOT related to your post, but thought this is how you will see this. Please kill the comment if you wish.

    BTW: I have now used Echo to read Audiobooks in RV and with cast from Amazon Fire Stick because the Echo has a better speaker system than the one in the RV. The RV is the size of a FedEx van.


    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      You are right, I do see it this way.

      I want to explore that story more…the article seems pretty speculative.

      Just so people are clear on it, you are using the Echo as a speaker for the audiobooks, but you are playing them on another device, right? You aren’t just asking the Echo to play an audiobook for you?

      • Harold Delk Says:

        Yes, I am using Echo as a Bluetooth speaker while playing the Audiobook from my Kindle Fire HD or from the Fire TV Stick. Interestingly I can use the Fire HD to “cast” to the television in the RV so we can both see the screen with ease when browsing on the smaller Fire screen which is 7″. Still exploring various and sundry options and combinations. A lot depends upon the quality of the wi-fi and cell signal as we travel even with a mi-fi device.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Harold!

        I appreciate that clarification!

        Some people are really interested in being able to say something like, “Alexa, tell me a bedtime story,” and having the device be able to start reading a public domain book. They’d also like it to be able to play their Audible books, of course.

        I suspect interfacing with the Fire TV/Stick is a higher priority, though. 🙂

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I have been interested in whispercast since day 1. It has always seemed to me, that to be successful, it has to provide some way for an administrator to see what’s on user devices, and add/delete content as students move from class year to year, or employees change departments.

    Every time I’ve looked at the whispercast documentation (and this post has prompted another look see), I can find lots of stuff about adding users, devices, and content, but almost nothing on removing stuff.

    Today’s investigation did seem to favor a particular use case where a school prepares a number of devices for say a social studies class, and then adds students for that class, and gives them the devices. When the course is done the devices are reset (whispercast tells you how to do that), and then new content can be loaded.

    Amazon also pitches whispercast to businesses and especially a BYOD scenario. In BYOD selective content management is a must.

    Most of the documentation seems to be focused on adding and purchasing content/devices, but little info that I can find as to how realistic administration would take place.

    These kinds of admin capabilities have to exist — otherwise I can’t see how any enterprise could participate in whispercast.

    Given the right kind of admin tools, whispercast could be very useful to a small business or single account user that owns multiple devices. It is even more intriguing that Amazon says that non-Amazon devices can participate in the whispercast solution.

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