Carrier bypass?

Amazon have just announced their Kindle eBook reader is about to be made available in 100 countries outside of the US.

Kindle 2 goes to $259, International GSM version coming October 19

Amazon.com introduced a new addition to its family of portable reading devices–Kindle with U.S. & International Wireless. Kindle with U.S. & International Wireless now enables readers to wirelessly download content in over 100 countries and territories. Readers can pre-order Kindle with U.S. & International Wireless starting today for $279 at www.amazon.com/kindle and it ships October 19.

The Kindle includes a wireless data modem. In the US Amazon has partnered with AT&T as the network partner to deliver books and magazines over the air to the Kindle. There is no data charge for downloading books – rather the download cost is covered in the book fee or magazine subscription. It’s a nice model as Amazon customers don’t have to think about mobile data charges. There is no wifi in Kindle so AT&T can’t be bypassed.

The industry has assumed that Amazon was doing deals with other carriers around the world. In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand we’d assumed that Vodafone was going to lock up a deal and bring the Amazon Kindle into these markets – no doubt with a horrible price differential on books but at least we’d be able to get and use a local Kindle.

This is the normal model for rolling out Telco products globally. With the iPhone, a local carrier could do an exclusive deal for their market (for a period of time).

But AT&T seem to be providing the service globally, exploiting the GSM international roaming agreements they have.

I’ve never seen this before: a carrier competing against others outside of their market, by bypassing the local carrier and selling directly to their customers. This is a massive change to the international Telco market.

A few thoughts spring to mind.

  • Are the UK, Australia and New Zealand included in the 100 countries?
  • The margin on this must be substantial – if they can cover international roaming charges which are notoriously high
  • Will the international prices be more expensive to cover the roaming charges?
  • Will pricing be in US dollars – i.e. global pricing?
  • Did Vodafone see this coming?
  • Will local carriers block the service?
  • Will UK, Australia and New Zealand have the full catalog or will it be limited like iTunes
  • Could we drop your bank transactions and KPI’s as a daily newsletter through Kindle? So when you open your Kindle in the morning your Xero transactions are there.

Another fascinating one to watch.

10 Comments

Stuart Jones
October 10, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I’m far from being an expert on e-readers but I’m waiting for the release of Plastic Logic’s e-reader next year http://www.plasticlogic.com/

It seems to be more for the business market than others I have seen.

Cary
October 10, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Looks like NZ misses out:-

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to ship Kindles or offer Kindle content in New Zealand.

http://tinyurl.com/ydafna8

Omar Kassim
October 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Argh. The UAE is not covered either.

Rod Drury
October 10, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Hmmm, wonder what made us less attractive than Fiji?

Chris
October 10, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Yeah just went to buy one.. wouldn’t accept my shipping address and was thinking what on earth was the problem. Thought surely if shipping to 100 countries that we would be one of them but NO, not this little backwater. Christ can someone get us out of the stone age please before we turn into a real backwater. Ethiopians can buy a kindle, we cannot. There’s something seriously wrong with this picture.

Wayne Robinson
October 10, 2009 at 1:12 am

Australia seems to be covered. Now I just need to work out if there is enough content available to justify its purchase.

Jared Roussel
October 10, 2009 at 4:13 am

C’mon just wait for Apple to come out with their tablet. Why duplicate your purchase? It’s like buying a Creative MP3 player when the iPod hasn’t been announced yet!

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