Amazon eyeing up Kindle deal with US Government; Apple tablets offer too much functionality

The Kindle Touch has been deemed the only eBook reader fit for government purposes according to the US State Department (DoS), who has opened no-bid negotiations with Amazon worth up to £10 million to distribute its product to the superpower's foreign embassies.

Amazon must now venture a contract in line with the State Department's needs. Any finalised deal will provide the DoS with at least 2,500 Kindle Touch devices, preloaded with 50 titles, though the number would likely rise as the government is purported to be looking to seal a mid-length agreement.

While the DoS is only able to guarantee purchases for a year at a time - the arrangement would initially be worth just under £1.5 million at around £100 per unit - in the last year the government body has bought 6,000 Kindles at a cost of over £630,000 as part of a pilot run.

Government documents have identified the Kindle as the only available eBook reader that satisfies its requirements as it looks to move on from the physical burden of hardcopy texts.

"In general, for many years, the State Department has had a program where we send hardcopy books overseas to out embassies," Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's press officer Philippe Reines said.

"The DoS has identified the Amazon Kindle as the only e-reader on the market that meets the government's needs and Amazon [is] the only company possessing the essential capabilities required by the government," he added.

Some of the specs and capabilities listed by the State Department as mandatory include a central management system, long battery life, and a 6-inch diagonal display. The hardware provider must also be able to customise the device in line with State Department needs, the document says.

Apple's iPad did not cut the ketchup, with the DoS deeming that a tablet as opposed to a dedicated eBook reader posed unnecessary security risks. The iPad also lacked a CMS for user registration and content delivery, and also fell short on battery life.

Reines put it bluntly: "The iPad has more functionality than we needed."

The US State Department is currently awaiting Amazon's proposal, with Reines venturing that the government does not have a specific timeline in mind.