Amazon Releases International Version of the Kindle

kindle
Image: Wikimedia Commons

After nearly two years of selling a Kindle that only works in the US, Amazon has released
an international version of the device. The $280 reader ships on October 19, according to Wired, which has the scoop:

The new version, with the snappy name of “Kindle with US and International Wireless,” will sell for $280 and can be pre-ordered now. The current version will still be for sale, and Amazon is dropping the price from $300 to $260. The bigger Kindle DX is unchanged.

As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explains it in a phone interview with Wired, “The two Kindles are identical, except for the radio.” The new device does not sync with Sprint, which was previously the exclusive supplier for Amazon’s Whispernet technology. Instead, it works with AT&T’s wireless network, which has the global reach that Amazon needs for its international plans.

This seems to push Sprint out of the long-term Kindle picture. Won’t everybody want to spend 20 bucks more on the AT&T version that that works all around the world, even if a cross-border trip isn’t on the immediate horizon? “I would!” says Bezos. Indeed, having a Kindle that downloads from overseas means you can get your favorite newspapers and magazines delivered instantly, at the same cost you pay at home.

It makes the Kindle a travel guide, too: If you want the lowdown on a Kyoto temple, or are wondering where to get the best fries in Amsterdam, you can download a relevant guide on the spot. And for the first time, the Lonely Planet series will be sold on Kindle, along with the previously available travel books from Frommer, Rick Steves and Michelin. No wonder the Amazon press release has an ecstatic quote from AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson and not a word from Sprint honcho (and vanity TV pitchman) Dan Hesse.

Wired suggests early adopters might be sore about this new development. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the problem by saying that current Kindle owners, if they’re disappointed with the limits of their devices, give away or sell their old readers.

This new development is a sure winner for Amazon.

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