With Apple’s iPad about to shake up the e-book market, Amazon is planning to expand its Kindle e-reader business further into the international market.
Until now the Kindle has only been available outside the USA to those willing to import. However, quoted by The Scotsman newspaper, Amazon UK managing director Brian McBride has confirmed that plans are definitely afoot for a proper international launch for the device.
Although he didn’t give a date for a UK launch, McBride is confident that the Kindle will make a more significant impact in the UK than it has to date. “Will Kindle become a bigger thing in the UK? Absolutely, because we have not yet launched a UK version.”
It’s encouraging to hear that Amazon is still committed to bringing a dedicated version of Kindle to the UK. Currently, international Kindle customers pay higher prices for their books thanks the fact that their devices download books via AT&T’s US mobile network, with the Kindle roaming on a UK network.
By committing to international markets, Amazon could steal the march on Apple’s looming iPad e-book business. While the iBooks Store attracted attention when Steve Jobs launched the iPad recently, Apple will only be selling e-books in the USA for now. That leaves the rest of the world ripe for Amazon to exploit.
“The fact is it is very, very early days for us,” McBride is quoted by The Scotsman as saying. “We believe this is chapter one in a very long story.” With the current device featuring an unsexy monochrome screen, a next generation Kindle is likely to be an important part of persuading customers to embrace e-books. With Amazon’s recent purchase of colour touchscreen company Touchtec, an iPad-rivalling version of the Kindle looks likely.
With a huge variety of iPhone apps already compatible, the iPad is likely to offer a lot more than a Kindle ever will. It’s unlikely Amazon would go down the route of turning the Kindle into a fully-fledged multimedia device. When it comes to a pure reading device though, the mainstream market is still there to be conquered.
The key question is whether customers will prefer a dedicated e-reader like the Kindle or the variety that the iPad will offer.
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