Amazon’s plans to launch the Kindle in China are reported to be on hold after local media claimed that the US giant has stalled on launching a Chinese version of its Cloud Drive service, a key requirement for the introduction of the devices.
Amazon has not officially announced plans for its Kindle range in China but, as we reported earlier this month, evidence of an upcoming launch is mounting, Simplified Chinese language support was recently added to Kindle Paperwhite software, for example. However, a report from Sohu IT (via Morning Whistle) has suggested that, despite this preparation, Amazon has suspended work on the critical cloud service, leaving the issue of a Kindle China launch up in the air.
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An anonymous source at Amazon told the Chinese website that, since the Kindle is heavily reliant on the service launching — it provides services and opportunities for Amazon to draw revenue from device owners — the Kindle’s release will be affected.
Amazon is reported to have changed its mind on plans to develop its own local hosting in China, which comes with great expense and red tape requirements, and is instead said to be looking into the possibility of renting capacity from a local provider instead.
That’s exactly the approach that Microsoft recently took this month, after it began to offer its Azure hosting via local cloud provider 21Vianet, as Wired reported. That option cuts out the need for a license to operate cloud services, while removing the requirement of physical hosting and servers in the country – something that Evernote admitted was a security risk, when it set up a local presence in China earlier this year.
“If Chinese authorities need access to Chinese data in a lawful way I don’t think it’s realistic to say we’ll be able to stop it,” Evernote CEO Phil Libin told media.
Google famously claimed that the Chinese government had tried to hack into its services, which were used by human rights campaigners and political observers, and it remains to be seen if this security issue has caused Amazon to rethink its strategy in China.
If so, it could be a while before the Kindle finally makes its bow in China, despite the fact that speculation has been ongoing for more than a year.
Nonetheless, Asia is becoming a key focus for Amazon and it has been pushing its devices in the continent in recent times. It launched its Kindle Store and devices in India in September, and its device went on sale in Japan in October. Significantly, Amazon made its Cloud Drive service available in Japan one week before the Kindle launch, illustrating the tie between the two.
It remains to be seen if this speculation out of China is connected in any way to the resignation of Amazon’s China president, Wang Hanhua, who, last month, announced plans to end his seven year tenure at the end of November.
We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment.