International Kindle DX ships on January 19th

Amazon Kindle DX

Amazon Kindle DX

Right after international Kindle 2 was shipped there were some speculations about international version of Kindle DX shipping sometime in 2010. Well… There is no need to speculate anymore. Amazon has just announced international availability of its 9.7″ eBook Reader. International Kindle DX is available for pre-order right now and will ship on the 19th of January 2010 worldwide.

There doesn’t seem to be any changes to the software as compared to the US version. Kindle DX will most likely get software version 2.3 that is now standard for the entire line-up of Amazon eInk readers. Since it now runs on GSM 3G wireless rather than CDMA it benefits from the latest software update that extended battery life with wireless on to roughly a week.

Last time I’ve checked international Kindle book availability, most countries has 320,000+ books available, while US customers can choose from 404,000+ books.

Most likely new Kindle will have new hardware ID (first 4 symbols in the serial number) so all hacks, including the Unicode Font hack will need to be repackaged specifically for the new version.

International Kindle FAQ

My post about international release of Kindle received more attention than any other post on this blog so far. A lot of readers are asking questions so I’m going to answer these in this FAQ to the best of my ability. Some of the answers are going to be guestimates since I haven’t received my World-ready version of Kindle 2 yet. I’ll keep adding and changing content here as I learn together with you.

What countries is Kindle available to?

As of October 6th, 2009 Amazon has revealed international version of Kindle 2 eBook reader that officially ships to 169 countries. However you should be aware that some features like wireless, experimental web-browser, blog subscriptions (including this one) are not available everywhere. Number of books that you can buy is also different for every country. Complete list of countries, book counts and other details can be found here.

Why isn’t Kindle available in my country? When it will become available?

Although I can’t know for sure since I don’t work for Amazon and never had, from my experience with eBook industry I can guess that it may be related to one of the following:

  • Amazon didn’t rally enough publishers in a particular country so book selection would have been too small.
  • Some provision of copyright law prevents Amazon from offering Kindle in a particular country.

I’m sure that there are no political/religious/etc reasons behind these limitations. Amazon is in the business of making money. And you can’t make money by turning down paying customers. That’s why I’m sure that they are making efforts to overcome these limitations and ship Kindle worldwide.

But I really want to buy a Kindle now. What should I do?

There is a way to buy Kindle when you are outside US. It has been known and used long before Kindle became internationally available. As of recently you will also need to use proxy server, VPN or similar solution to overcome geographical restrictions.

I have already used gift-cards to purchase Kindle and use it outside of the US. Can I re-register it to my “non-US” account now?

I absolutely see no reason why you can’t. You can de-register your Kindle from your “fake US” account, and then register it with your local account. The downside is that you will loose the ability to download books that you’ve purchased from your “fake US” account. So before de-registering you should download these books to your computer make a secure backup copy. It may be a good idea to use one of the secure online backup services. You can then copy these books to your re-registered Kindle and you should still be able to read them.

Why does the coverage map show that Whispernet will work in my country but I still can’t buy Kindle?

Wireless coverage merely indicates where Kindle wireless will work. This only depends on roaming agreements AT&T has with wireless operators around the globe. However more is needed for Amazon to sell Kindles in particular country as was stated above.

Kindle International Coverage Map

Kindle International Coverage Map

Where can I find Whilspernet coverage map?

You can view the large map by clicking on the small map image to the right. Or you can access the interactive map here.

Is international Kindle DX available for purchase?

Currently only international version of Kindle 2 was released. However there are some rumors and speculations that international Kindle DX will be released next year.

What network does international Kindle use for wireless connectivity?

International version of Kindle 2 uses AT&T 3G GSM network in the USA. Outside of US it uses 3G GSM wireless networks of AT&T roaming partners.

Can I use WiFi with Kindle?

No. Not directly at least. You can download books and magazines to your PC via. website using WiFi Internet connection and then transfer them to Kindle using USB connection.

Does international version of Kindle support non-Latin Unicode characters?

Although I can’t tell for sure until my international Kindle 2 arrives, there is nothing on Amazon website that indicates any changes compared to the US version of Kindle. You can still use Kindle Unicode Font Hack to expand the character range Kindle can display.

Is it possible to upgrade my US Kindle to international version? Will firmware update solve the problem?

No. GSM and CDMA networks require different hardware. This hardware is not easy to replace and doing so will surely void your Kindle warranty. Even if you were able to replace the hardware, you would still need to make lots of software changes to make it work. Nobody was able to do this as far as I know.

What is the story with international book download surcharge of $1.99? Who will pay it? Where? When?

International data roaming is expensive. When I visit Canada with my US iPhone, I’m offered a rate of $15.35 per megabyte for data roaming. Average book is at least 300 kilobytes. This would translate to around $5.00 additional cost per book. So Amazon’s surcharge of $1.99 actually looks like a bargain compared to that.

There seems to be a lot of confusion around who is going to be charged this amount and when. My understanding is that only customers with US shipping address would be charged extra $1.99 per book when travelling abroad. Customers from all other countries are never charged anything above the actual list price of the book no matter where they download it. However this is reflected in the book price which is $2.00 higher than for US customers.

Why Australian Kindle is sold without AC power adapter for charging when customers in all other countries get one?

No idea. My guess is that it has something to do with safety regulations in Australia.

Why blog subscription and experimental web-browser are turned off for my country?

Wireless data costs. You can easily use 1 megabyte of traffic just by viewing several Wikipedia pages. In fact homepage of this blog would amount to roughly one megabyte of data if you factor in all of the images. Since Amazon doesn’t own wireless networks it has to pay for all this data. It would be too expensive for them as profits from book sales would not cover it.

My guess is that Amazon was able to strike some kind of special deal with wireless operators in Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan to make this work.

Why do newspapers and magazines come without pictures outside of US?

Same reason – wireless data costs. Images would increase the amount of data that needs to be transferred causing Amazon to loose money on subscriptions. Hopefully in the future when international wireless data becomes cheaper this should no longer be an issue.

Other questions or corrections.

Let me know if there are other questions that you believe should be covered in this FAQ. If you believe that some data became outdated or inaccurate – drop me a comment and I’ll what I can do.

International Kindle DX? Possibly in 2010

Amazon Kindle DX

Amazon Kindle DX

While browsing the announcements about Kindle 2 international launch I’ve stumbled upon a post on in which James Holland claims that Amazon UK spokesman Ben Howes telling that “we (Amazon) expect to add a Kindle DX family member with international roaming sometime next year.

This is interesting piece of news, although you can hardly call it surprising since there is obviously demand for such a device, “sometime next year” is a rather wide period of time (I’m sure that Amazon will release something and Kindle DX seems logical), also there is little that is preventing Amazon from releasing such a device:

  • Hardware and software changes are rather trivial and low cost.
  • Amazon managed to untangle the horrible mess called international copyright law and publishing rights and implement geographical restrictions for books based on country and still come up with decent number of books for most of the 169 countries to which Kindle 2 will start shipping on October 19.
  • They’ve managed to set up wireless connectivity in 100+ countries by taking advantage of AT&T roaming agreements. While data prices are substantial and infer usage restrictions (international download surcharge, no web-browsing, etc) but it works for Kindle 2 and it will work for Kindle DX
  • Amazon had distribution and logistics set up and figured out long before Kindle 1 was released.

So you would ask why not release it now? There are several possible reasons and most likely all of them play a role to a different degree each:

  • If Amazon does two releases that are several months apart, they would generate hype twice and benefit from two spikes in sales. If they were to release both devices together I doubt there would have been twice as much hype. I think that Amazon is carefully timing their releases and price drops to maintain maximum possible customer attention to their product in the long run. After all Amazon was selling products made by other companies (some of them quite hyped, like iPod Touch), they know sales volume and how much does it spike after a piece of news and at what pace it then drops. And it would make total sense for them to use this knowledge to their advantage.
  • It’s easier and cheaper to test new technology (3G GSM modem integration) on one device and then apply your experience to integrating this technology into another device. It’s also easier to retool one production line than two. If you consider the fact that Kindle DX was sold out for almost a month this summer it makes sense that Amazon would like to avoid disruptions in production if they can.
  • Perhaps international Kindle DX will include additional features like better PDF support, touchscreen or some other innovations. These take time to develop. Taking a pause would also let Amazon see how Sony touchscreen eReaders would fare and make a decision on whether to go down that road or not.
  • If you look in the upper left corner of you will see that Amazon already sells 6 Kindle devices, all with different price points. Adding another one might confuse customers too much and disrupt the buying process. So Amazon would likely phase out US version of Kindle 2, merging it with refurbished Kindle 2. Then they would have 6 months before they would need to worry about reselling refurbished international Kindles.

If I were to guess when would Amazon roll out international Kindle DX I would say: “not for another 4 months” since this seems to be the pace they’ve set this year and considering that Amazon just did their “holiday season release” and it would make little sense to dump something on the unsuspecting customers amid holidays.

Let’s wait and see…

Amazon Kindle UK edition perhaps in the autumn?

Wireless Access with WhispernetThere has been an interesting development for UK Kindle fans, user TadW on MobileRead forums stumbled upon an article in the London Evening Standard which reviewed the Kindle, whilst the review offers nothing new in terms of information, there was a glimmer of hope for a UK autumn release date.

For now, in any case, at the moment, the Kindle is only available in America. There have been reports that Amazon. plans to launch a version of it here in the autumn (perhaps using wi-fi, rather than a phone system?) but when I asked a spokesman for the company about this, he refused to comment, monotonously repeating we dont talk about future plans.

But it seems the Kindle has now begun to acquire some of the momentum that iPods picked up over other MP3 players; just as iPods changed the way we listen, so the Kindle may, by next summer, say, be impacting on the way many of us read.

I say glimmer because that’s all it was, a tiny glimmer. A UK release would present some challenges for Amazon, the dominant standard for cellular communication in the UK is Global System for Mobile (GSM) whereas in the US it is Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO), Amazon would also have to negotiate a contract with a UK carrier. Amazon recently revealed that it had optimised its supply chain which was one of the reasons for the $40 price drop, with the supply problems behind them Amazon could now concentrate on developing the Kindle for new markets, and the UK & Europe would be a huge market for Amazon.

Amazon will most likely offer different versions of the Kindle in different countries, but for now I think Amazon will see how the Kindle performs in the US before they think about releasing it in the UK or anywhere else, which makes the autumn release seem a bit premature.

Source: MobileRead Forums