Amazon has launched a Kindle Store in France - but the only device it has available is the basic entry-level e-ink Kindle. This highlights the limitations in Kindle's international coverage.
The new Amazon color tablet, the Kindle Fire (which already has an estimated quarter of a million pre-orders) and the e-ink touchscreen tablet, the Kindle Touch, are not yet shipping - but when they do it will be only to US customers.
As for Amazon's international outlets only three of them have Kindle stores. The new French Kindle store opened last week and it has just one Kindle model - the latest 6" entry level wi-fi model without either keyboard or touch. Both Amazon.co.uk in the UK and Amazon.de in Germany already had Kindle Stores and they now supply the three 6" models, giving customers the choice of a keyboard and of 3G.
Amazon.ca in Canada doesn't have its own Kindle Store but its customers can buy four Kindle models from Amazon.com, in the same way as customers in many other parts of the world. In addition the 9.7", 3G Kindle DX is now available for purchase from Amazon.com to be be shipped to many international destinations.
So why are international customers being denied the full range of Kindles?
Part of the answer is that it is a matter of communications infrastructure and economics. All Kindle users take advantage of Amazon Cloud for storage of the titles they have bought but it is only in the US that the Amazon Cloud offer movies and music. So only in the US will the purchase of a Kindle Fire potentially lead to lots of further purchases of movies, games and songs.
This does beg the question "why can't Amazon extend its Cloud services" - and then we get into licensing, some but not all of which is outside Amazon's control.
But why isn't the Kindle Touch going to be more widely available. It's an e-ink device and so primarily an e-reader? This could well be a decision based on limited supply for a device that won't ship until the second half of November.
It is also worth noting that it is only in the US that the advertising subsidized "with special offer" Kindles are available. Those of us in the rest of the world just have to put up with paying higher prices.
Amazon presents an excellent case study in the difficulties inherent in running a global retail business. The internet may know few boundaries but national rules and regulations and rights management are still restrictive. While the launch of the new Kindles is a worldwide media event actually buying a new Kindle is a strictly local (aka USA) event.
New Amazon Kindles - the developer's take
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