Amazon announced its Android-based, 7in display, Kindle Fire tablet in September last year, and only in America. Since then, the company has been very quiet about selling the device on the international stage – but is this all about to change?
The rumour mill has gone into overdrive recently after news that second-generation Kindle Fires are being readied, some with higher screen resolutions than the first iteration. Although the news hasn't exactly been tied to the UK, I have a theory that the Fire may be coming to our shores.
As it stands today, if an Amazon Kindle Fire was purchased on Amazon.com with a US Amazon account and imported to the UK, it would work OK, with access to books, music and with the ability to surf the web. There is, though, limited access to Amazon's extra features, such as the company's US-only Appstore, where Android applications can be downloaded to the heavily customised OS (it can’t use the Android Market, now known as Google Play). As this is the only legitimate way of gaining access to any applications, having a tablet that can’t run any apps other than the ones provided renders the device rather limited.
But there has been some promising news. Amazon's Appstore is coming to Europe. This could be paving the way for a UK Kindle Fire or at the very least putting measures in place for its support outside the States.
The other point to consider is that Amazon has a track record of not rolling out its first generation devices elsewhere in the world, confining them to America only. The original Kindle, from 2007, skipped by the UK, raising the jealousy factor towards our cousins across the pond who were happily enjoying eBooks. Switch to early 2009, when the second-generation Kindle 2 became available in the US, and Amazon still remained silent about that version’s availability anywhere else. However, in October of that year, Amazon finally unveiled the international Kindle, which was effectively the Kindle 2, only with the ability to work outside the US and with the same instant access to Amazon's eBooks.
I believe that the online retailing giant will follow a similar trend and we won't see the original Kindle Fire over here - which is now some eight months old. Instead, we’ll see the Kindle Fire 2 with its rumoured 1,280 x 800 display, which will compete with the Google Nexus 7 for market share.
I contacted Amazon’s Kindle PR Manager for a comment about the Fire’s arrival in the UK, and the reply was: "Unfortunately I don't have any details. I'll have to ask you to stay tuned". That’s not a categorical denial in my book, so, as Amazon has said, stay tuned.
Unperturbed, I also popped down to Amazon’s Christmas showcase event today, where I personally asked the UK Kindle PR Manager about the recent reports of the Kindle Fire 2. The response was a firm: Amazon does not comment on rumours or speculation. So that’s still not a firm 'No' then.