Ben Chiang, is an editor at TechNode, a bilingual blog based in China.
Are Amazon’s Kindle tablets and e-readers ready to break into the world’s biggest market? We’ve spotted some Chinese Help documentation for Amazon Kindle devices on the company’s China-facing site in a sign that they may be coming for real this time.
Even though the online documentation was yanked, we have a screenshot of Google’s cached version of the site (see below). Amazon’s China office declined to comment.
This isn’t the first time that Chinese Kindle fans have been disappointed. It was widely reported in 2010 that the popular e-reader was going to enter China after an internal document from Amazon China was leaked to the local press. It showed a Kindle e-reader with the Chinese name Jing Du, which literally translated to ‘Golden Reading.’ But after nearly two years, Kindle devices still haven’t entered the country.
As yesterday’s blowout Apple earnings show, it’s a missed opportunity for Amazon. Apple said China alone brought in $7.9 billion in revenue last quarter and has become the second largest market for the company. So it’s time for Amazon to step up and bring Kindle products into China, especially as tablet sales start to eat the market share of e-readers, according to a Digitimes Research report.
There are already many dirt cheap local e-readers like Shanda’s Bambook and Hanvon’s WISEreader. Both accounted for 19.6 and 59.6 percent of China’s e-reader market in the third quarter of last year, according to a report by Beijing-based technology consultancy AnalysysInternational. Both companies lowered the price of their devices in last year. Now the cheapest models are available at RMB 499 (or about $79).
Wang Hanhua, the president of Amazon China said late last year that Kindle products are definitely coming to China. But he didn’t have an exact timetable.