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Amazon’s Kindle Fire today is only on sale in the U.S., but according to one report that Fire could be spreading to the UK as soon as January of next year.
According to the blog Know Your Mobile, that’s when Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) plans to launch the Kindle fire in the UK, citing an unnamed source for the news.
This could be part of a bigger bid to increase competitive pressure on Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), which is also planning its UK launch early next year.
We have contacted Amazon directly for its response to the news and to ask about further international plans — although typically the company does not comment on stories like this, so it’s unlikely we will get an answer one way or the other.
A January launch of the device in the UK would be a big shift for Amazon, which took more than two years to expand its original Kindle to sell beyond the original launch market of the U.S. However, Amazon would have had to secure more than just e-book distribution rights for its first e-reader; it would have also had to broker a deal with a carrier to provide the network connectivity for the Whispersync service that updates the device and comes bundled as part of the basic price for the product.
However, the launch of the updated, touchscreen Kindle has seen Amazon quicken the pace of international launches for its Kindle e-reader products. Last week it added Italy and Spain to its roster of European countries where it is available, along with an e-reader store.
The WiFi-only Fire will need no carrier negotiations but will still need to secure international rights for content.
A January launch for the Kindle in the UK specifically also makes sense considering that Amazon would be keen to steal a march on Netflix, which is also planning a launch of its service in the UK and Ireland some time in early 2012 (the exact date has not been announced).
Amazon’s Lovefilm competes directly with Netflix and the various exclusive deals that Netflix has been inking for premium video content (Miramax, MGM among them) have been seen as a competitive threat to Amazon’s video distribution service.
Even before Amazon has announced any international launches for the Kindle Fire — or even announced any sales numbers — analysts have already written it into their tablet overviews for its disruptive — even “devastating” — presence, based not only on its cheap price but for the fact that it bundles in so many different cloud-based services, giving existing tablet makers, including the leading tablet maker, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), a run for their money.
Just earlier today, analyst Shaw Wu from Sterne Agee reduced his forecasts for iPad sales partly because of the Kindle Fire effect.