Amazon launches new Kindle tablets, but Australians to miss out – again

Amazon has impressed the market this morning after announcing a new range of tablets and eReaders in a slick press event led by chief executive Jeff Bezos – but Australians are set to be disappointed once again, with no plans to release the hot new gadgets locally.

The disappointment is a repeat of last year’s announcement of the Kindle Fire. Australian users have only been able to buy it online or through importing it themselves.

But Telsyte research manager Foad Fadaghi says although it’s a disappointment, it may just be a prudent business decision.

“We don’t have the necessary channel partners,” he told SmartCompany this morning.

“You look at Samsung, which has a large range of retailers, carriers and online stores, and so on, to sell their products. Amazon by the very nature of their business is an online retailer and doesn’t have that.”

Jeff Bezos announced a range of new products last night, including the new Kindle Paperwhite, which is thinner and lighter than the previous version and uses a new screen technology to create a much brighter reading surface. It also claims an eight-week battery life.

The device costs $US119, and is the only version available to Australians.

The new tablets are where local users are out of luck. The new Kindle Fire is claimed to be 40% faster and costs just $US159.

There will also be a new version of the Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD, which comes in two sizes – a 7-inch and an 8.9-inch version, both of which cost $US199 and $US299 respectively.

The price is a move that has some analysts questioning whether Amazon can mount a significant challenge to Apple’s iPad, which costs a few hundred dollars more at its cheapest.

Bezos also claimed the Kindle Fire now makes up 22% of tablet sales in the United States – although the company doesn’t release figures on this statistic and it cannot be confirmed.

He also made an interesting statement about why the company makes its devices so cheap.

We don’t need you to be on the upgrade treadmill,” he says. “We’re happy that people are still using Kindle 1’s that are five years old.”

This could also explain why the Kindle Fire isn’t available in Australia yet. Content services like Amazon Prime and the variety of media available on the site aren’t yet able to be accessed by Australian consumers.

As a result, Amazon wouldn’t be able to make much money selling the tablets here.

Fadaghi points out plenty of consumers have been buying their Amazon tablets from offshore sites. This may be the company’s way of getting around this roadblock.

“People will still buy them online and have access to them, and maybe that’s their strategy for this part of the world.”

“The challenge is actually having channel partners on the ground, and right now that could be a stumbling block for them.”




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