Amazon broke five months of silence for acquisition TenMarks on Monday, releasing a new app for its Kindle reader and offering free access to its summer math program in an effort to entice new customers.
TenMarks is a completely online learning application for mathematics that can be used to either supplement traditional brick and mortar learning or as its own stand-alone facilitator.
One of its main areas of appeal is it coinciding with material being taught in many states by the Common Core Standards.
The latest app, the TenMarks Summer Math Program, appeared Monday on the Amazong Appstore website for free. In prior incarnations, the program had a list price of $39 per student, and could be used only via the company website or on an iPad.
Desgned for all ages, the Summer Math Program has assignments, videos and real-time tutoring starting with first grade math and advancing as far as geometry and Algebra 2, according to a review by CNET's Donna Y. Tam.
Because of the success of Apple's iPad, companies like Amazon have found themselves in the unfamiliar position of trying to play catch-up:
Amazon, which runs a forked version of Android, has made other efforts in education, including Whispercast, a free online tool that lets schools and businesses manage a fleet of Kindle tablets and wirelessly distribute Kindle books, documents and apps. Overall, the e-commerce giant's tablet focuses on kid-friendly features and education through its FreeTime mode.
Tenmarks' products, including the Summer Math Program, smartly incorporate elements of online and video games that many children are familiar with, filling their releases with customizable options, and having the experience being a tiered one – complete with levels, bonuses and even personalized reward schemes to make it seem like a completely unique experience, according to an article in The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel.
Amazon reached an agreement to acquire TenMarks in October of 2013 for an undisclosed amount. At the time, TenMarks was being used by students in more than 25,000 schools and 7,000 districts in the United States:
"Amazon and TenMarks share the same passion for student learning. TenMarks's award-winning math programs have been used by tens of thousands of schools and Amazon engages with millions of students around the world through our Kindle ecosystem," said Amazon vice-president of Kindle Dave Limp, shortly after the deal was finalized.
This isn't the first time that a TenMarks has been a freebie. According to an article by Geekwire's Todd Bishop, TenMarks has previously operated using a "freemium" model, which means that the company allowed teachers to sign up for free access to products, but that they pay in order to access certain features and functions.
Amazon hopes this will be a first step towards its Kindle Fire becoming an educational rival to the iPad.