Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) appears to be ramping up its activities in China. Today a report notes that the company is in talks with the Chinese government to retail its Kindle products, including e-readers in the country. If true, that would make China the first market in Asia to get a local Kindle product. The report today follows the news from yesterday that Amazon had officially rebranded its China operation solely under its own name, and taken a new Chinese URL in the process.
The report on the Kindle in China comes from Sohu IT (via MenaFN), which quotes Amazon’s SVP Marc Onetto as saying that the company was in talks with the government over a launch, and still needed to address areas like content copyrights for the Chinese market.
Those talks could go on for some time: Onetto also noted that no timeline for rollout had been set, nor did Amazon have any plans to share about working with local vendors to offer the device. In markets like the U.S. and UK, the Kindle comes bundled with connectivity either via WiFi or 3G, which Amazon gets through direct agreements with local carriers. That means the user pays a one-off price for the device with no recurring monthly charges for data services (paid e-books not included). But it took nearly two years for Amazon to launch the Kindle outside of North America.
We have contacted Amazon to comment on the report and will update this post as we learn more.
Amazon clearly sees a big opportunity for more business in China, even if it has not fully realized it yet. Onetto notes that operating revenues for Amazon have grown by 80 percent — not clear on the growth timeframe, though — and that China currently stands as second behind the U.S. for Amazon in terms of sales.
The company, according to TechWeb, already has some 400,000 square meters of warehouse space in 10 distribution centers, roughly one-third of the warehouse space it has in the U.S.
The Chinese business comes by way of its acquisition of Joyo in 2004, and until yesterday the company was known as Joyo Amazon.
Amazon currently makes 43 percent of its revenues outside of its home market; it’s not clear how much of it comes from China, although a report last year from Goldman Sachs estimated that in 2011 the company could make revenues of over $1 billion in the country. In the last quarter, the company reported $10.88 billion in sales, on net income of $63 million.
This is not the first report in recent times that floats the idea of the Kindle extending to Asia. Last week it emerged that Amazon is apparently working on also launching the device in Japan. If Amazon concentrates on launching a key-board free version of the Kindle, and the Fire tablet, in these markets, that will overcome at least one major hurdle in terms of making devices that are usable in countries where English is not the local language.