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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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Kindle Fire UK Coming This January

One of the biggest obstacles that Amazon is going to have to overcome in order to continue expanding its Kindle line at a decent rate is the complicated international release process.  That hasn’t stopped them so far, of course.  Some analysts are anticipating, for example, that the Kindle Fire will control as much as 50% of the Android Tablet market in 2012.  A great start, but it still doesn’t really make an impact against the market dominating iPad which is already around in over a dozen countries.

The first step in improving their new tablet’s presence is coming in January 2012 when according to supposed insider sources speaking to tech blog Know Your Mobile the UK will be the first country outside the United States to get the Kindle Fire.  It isn’t exactly a surprise, given the history of Kindle releases and the ease of localization, but it is a step in the right direction.  What’s important will be what comes next, which could end up being somewhat unpredictable given the peculiarities of the device.

Obviously the first instinct is to look to Anglophone countries that require minimal modification of the user interface.  Amazon has spent a lot of effort on getting things working properly, after all, and the need for redesign may at times be significant when dealing with alternate languages.  I would guess that this will not be the primary factor in determining who comes next, though.  Given the Kindle Fire’s emphasis on consuming a variety of media (especially video) via data streaming, chances are good that they will go where the content rights are most easily acquired.

This will likely sync up somewhat with the Anglophone list, I’m sure, but there’s definitely the chance of unexpected choices given the increasing general wariness being expressed in many of Amazon’s more established markets over their huge influence.  The one thing that Amazon has to know that they can’t do with the Kindle Fire is release it like the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. While the Netflix streaming is nice, as are most of the content apps that are currently available, the device itself is completely built around Amazon.com integration and would be crippled by the lack of their servers.

Regardless of the less immediate future, UK customers can look forward to a great experience.  The Kindle Fire has become a hit in America for good reasons and will have had time in the interim to be polished even further.  The video streaming is wonderful and likely to be tied to Amazon’s LOVEFiLM brand rather than the Amazon.co.uk Prime service.  Music and cloud storage in general seem to work wonderfully for almost everybody, and indications are good that the vast majority of WiFi connectivity issues will have been addressed prior to this launch.  Even the reading experience isn’t precisely bad, however much better the Kindle E INK eReaders might be.  Expect official announcement early on as we enter 2012.

Amazon Kindle Daily Detail Now Available In UK

Let’s face it, Amazon has not been great up until now about making sure that customers outside of US markets get access to their products and services in a timely manner.  The Kindle Fire will be a long time coming to other countries due to its strong ties to an infrastructure that hasn’t been built up anywhere else yet, Amazon Prime has yet to carry quite the same incentives for everybody, and many of the promotions that Amazon runs don’t quite make it to any of their sites besides Amazon.com.  It’s always good news when this changes, though, even if only slightly.

Amazon has recently announced that their ongoing Kindle Daily Deal promotion will be extended to the UK’s Kindle Store.  Amazon.co.uk customers will be able to enjoy specially discounted Kindle Edition eBooks on a daily basis.  Each book will be available at this price for 24 hours before reverting to its normal number.  In the US Kindle Store, it has not been unusual to see heavily discounted titles in a variety of genres and it is hopes that this trend will continue now that the offer is being expanded.

Sadly, while as I mentioned this is definitely a step in the right direction, it does little to address the ongoing problem.  The newest Kindles have not yet been given much of a presence outside of US markets.  While, for example, you can buy the new Kindle 4 in the UK you cannot order a Kindle Touch, or even a Kindle Keyboard without 3G.  Prices are still noticeably higher due to a number of factors including the lack of Special Offers integration, and this has not been changing at the rate we might expect.

Clearly Amazon is responding to a number of pressures.  I could reasonably see it being difficult to justify having a Kindle Keyboard WiFi if consumer demand in a particular country leaves them sitting on a shelf while orders come in for the 3G model.  The Kindle Touch, due in particular to its much-touted X-Ray feature, requires access to Amazon technology still in its early stages.  As such it might be worth working the bugs out before implementing it elsewhere.  The Kindle Fire relies on all sorts of media streaming avenues that will require years of time and more money than anybody likes to think about to make happen in new markets.  Each new market, in fact, will be the same headache all over again since global media rights are not exactly simple to secure.  There is a lot that goes into getting something ready for international release on any large scale.

That said, all of this is insufficient to really justify the continuance of the problem or Amazon’s lack of comment on user demands.  It is nice when they come up with something like the Kindle Daily Deal, but in the end it seems like audiences outside the US are almost an afterthought.  If Amazon hopes to secure any significant presence beyond what it already has in hand, the only option is to start pushing for more equal treatment of these customer bases.  Or so it would seem to me.

Waterstone’s To Be UK’s Next Kindle Competition

Everybody knows that Amazon doesn’t release the sales numbers for their Kindle eReader.  That being said, some analysts have estimated that the popular eReader will sell over 17 million units this year alone and that the platform as a whole now accounts for as much as 10% of Amazon’s overall revenue.  That doesn’t mean that the Kindle is unassailable, of course, but it is definitely difficult.  The Barnes & Noble Nook has proved both parts of that.  Now, in an effort to revive flagging sales numbers, British bookseller Waterstone’s is going to try to replicate the B&N success story.

James Daunt, the Waterstone’s managing director, said in a recent BBC 4 radio interview that he was inspired by the Nook’s success in the US market.  So far, Barnes & Noble has not decided to expand their eReader presence beyond the US in spite of the exceptionally favorable reviews of their most recent generation of devices, which leaves a gap in the market for somebody else to exploit. Lately, given the consistent downward trend of most of Barnes & Noble’s non-Nook numbers, this seems like a great model for an otherwise declining company to make a comeback with.

Right now, Waterstone’s does not have a hardware partner or much in the way of solid details in terms of their intended offering.  Daunt has claimed that the company is “well down the planning line” on the way to an early 2012 launch are somewhat encouraging, but there is a lot to get done for such an ambitious move.  This is a fairly late stage to be entering into eReading on short notice, given the high quality of the current generation of eReaders.  Even the Kindle is sometimes only considered second-best by comparison these days.  That’s a lot to measure up to for any newcomer.

Since the closing of Borders Books and Books Etc, Waterstones seems to be the only major brick and mortar book seller in the UK market.  At a glance this seems to be something of a last-ditch effort.  The Waterstone’s internet storefront, which has been selling eBooks for some time now, has failed to compete successfully against the Kindle’s UK store.  A hardware tie-in would guarantee some returning business, but only if customers can be persuaded to adopt the new platform in the long term.

One of the biggest considerations for people seeking to build their own eBook library is whether or not their purchases will eventually be rendered useless by the end of a format or the closing of their chosen retailer.  Whereas Amazon seems to be around for pretty much the foreseeable future, Waterstone’s will have to make a big impression to avoid losing customers to the fear of obsolescence.  Add into that the overwhelming probability that there will be a new and improved Kindle released even before the Waterstone’s eReader comes to market and it will be a much tougher sale to make.

As always, competition is the most important driving factor for product improvement and customers should welcome a new serious contender to the eReader marketplace, but so far there isn’t enough detail to get your hopes up for.

New Kindle for the UK!

UK Kindle

While the Kindle has long since become an international phenomenon with customers found all over the world, many people are surprised to find that there have been significant shortcomings to being a Kindle user outside of the US.  Sure, the books are digital property and take a lot less time to ship than if you decided to import a sofa, but delivery time isn’t everything.  Up until now, users in the UK have been forced to pay extra for all of their eBook purchases, simply for being outside the United States.

The launch of the Kindle Store UK is currently scheduled for August 27th, coinciding with the release of the new Kindle 3, though I’m told that Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) insists that it be called simply Kindle, and in preparation has begun selling the Kindle directly from the Amazon.uk site for the first time.  This should mean no more import fees or expensive overseas delivery charges, if all goes well, as well as an end to any obnoxious side effects and hassles from the necessity of converting currency into dollars.

Apps are already being updated to incorporate this new development, with Android already rolling out and iOS being expected in the near future, so there need be no thoughts that this is beneficial to just eReader owners.  As the platform localizes, UK readers can surely expect to see a larger selection(especially of native UK authors), better prices, and more attention to the region’s specific demands.  If all goes well, it doesn’t seem unreasonable in the slightest to expect to see further nationalization of the Kindle platform across the international community.  If anything, the fact that character support in the new Kindle software has been expanded would seem to hint that this is definitely on the books.  This is exactly the sort of move that Amazon needed to further ensure that their eBook application becomes the default for the industry in the long term.

iRiver Launches New E-reader device

iRiver has announced a new e-book reader that looks a whole lot like the Kindle 2 with its white cover, grayscale screen and keyboard.  It is called the iRiver Wi-Fi Story and is available in the UK for 250 pounds.  That equals to about $376 USD.

Wi-Fi Story users can download books from the WHSmith e-book store via the wi-fi connection.  The device is compatible with many file types: ePub, PDF, Microsoft Office, and images such as JPG, GIF and BIMP.  I wonder if the images work better for the iRiver device than they do for the Kindle?  Kindle readers have complained about the quality of graphics on the e-reader for awhile now, especially for magazines.

The iRiver Wi-Fi Story also includes the ability to play music.  Considering that iRiver is known for awesome media players, the ability to play music would allow the e-reader to fit in with the other media players made by the company.  Amazon recently released audio for Kindle, but it isn’t compatible with the Kindle itself.  Hopefully, that will be available in a future release.  The  iRiver e-reader definitely has an advantage with the media feature for now.

The iRiver e-reader doesn’t hold a candle to the Kindle price wise.  The Kindle is available for $189, which is almost $200 less than the price of the Wi-Fi Story in US dollars.  The battery life for the Wi-Fi Story is 900 pages.  The Kindle’s battery life is two weeks with wireless connection off.  I’m not sure how they get the 900 pages figure because reading speed depends on the individual.

Wikipedia works on International Kindles in the UK

Kindle UK Wikipedia

Kindle UK Wikipedia

One of the blog subscribers, Ilya who has recently purchased an Kindle 2 International in the UK has confirmed that despite the Amazon statement that experimental browser and blog subscriptions don’t work in the UK, Wikipedia access actually works. However pictures do not load and all other websites are blocked.
Since Amazon has announced that web browsing will not be available worldwide it was natural to assume that Wikipedia access will not work either. It looks like Amazon is treating Wikipedia as a separate feature.
It would be interesting to hear from K2i owners in other countries about their Wikipedia experience. Either if it works or it doesn’t – please drop a comment.

Update: It has been confirmed by several people that pictures in wikipedia now load.

The Kindle’s UK Launch Date Will be Finalized Soon

UK Kindle

UK Kindle

Amazon will soon have a UK launch date finalized for the Kindle, according to British mobile phone trade publication, Mobile Today.  Although its not currently clear when this date will be, the launch should occur in time for the holiday season.

Of course, just because Kindle has been slow to leave the US doesn’t mean that Amazon’s competitors haven’t already cracked the European market.  Part of Amazon’s strategy will now have to be winning away users who already have experience with other eReaders.

What may be the Kindle’s largest selling point is also the reason for the delay: Whispernet.  The reason Kindle isn’t yet sold in the UK is because problems arose in finding a wireless carrier (Orange and Vodafone, 2 major cellular companies in Great Britain,  are working on their own wireless-enabled eReaders with Vodaphone planning to release as soon as this fall).  Qualcomm has taken over negotiations for Amazon, and has apparently found a solution to the wireless problem.

One question on my mind is how the UK Kindle’s will work in the US and vice versa.  Most likely it will not be possible to use wireless connectivity outside your own country. In order to make this a reality Amazon will need ot install universal wireless chipset that would support both CDMA (Sprint) and GSM (european operators). This will incurr extra cost while not making a great difference for 99% of the users. I may be wrong though. We’ll 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. co.uk 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