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…

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