So Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has confirmed the second iteration of its Kindle e-book reader – with lighter, thinner body, space for 800 more books and text-to-speech synthesis – will hit US stores on February 24. But one thing conscpicuously absent from the announcement – any semblance of UK or European launch dates.
Even the current Kindle is still missing on these shores; this will now mean Amazon has skipped a whole hardware generation – and still there’s no sign of a commitment to launching; all execs would tell my colleague David Kaplan, who covered the launch in New York, was: “We haven’t made any announcements.” That’s a pity, given British publishers including The Times, The Independent and Financial Times are already publishing to Kindle.
Search Amazon.co.uk for “Kindle”, however, and you’ll find all manner of cases, covers and accessories – even the listing for Sony’s rival PRS505S e-reader, which is on sale on these shores. Perhaps Amazon’s UK team is so desperate to start selling e-readers, it’s pointing Kindle-seekers to those made by the Japanese electronics manufacturer?
The likely stumbling block to a UK Kindle is still Whispernet. Whilst in the US, Kindle’s over-the-air book and newspaper downloads are carried out over Sprint’s mobile network, the European picture is complicated by a fragmented market, UK execs have previously said. Perhaps European Commission efforts to lower cross-border data charges would help (and, after all, Amazon did eventually strike enough music licenses across Europe to launch its MP3 store here) – but the fact remains that Amazon decided to do wireless this way. Bezos said today the device drives 10 percent of Amazon sales – that’s 10 percent the company is missing out on in each of its other territories.