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Amazon in Talks to Release the Kindle in China – I Doubt It Will Happen

I wouldn’t normally pay attention to these kind of rumors, but last week one of Amazon’s VPs was reportedly in China to talk import regulations with their government.

Amazon Global Vice President Marc Onetto  was interviewed last Thursday and he said that they are in active negotiation with the Chinese government regulators, and they are trying to acquire the necessary permissions to import the Kindle into China. He also said that Amazon aren’t planning to sign a local distribution partner but would market the Kindle from

There’s no word on how negotiations with copyright holders are going, but I’d expect them to be ready to wrap up long before the government regulators make up their mind.

Now, the Kindle is made in China originally, but it’s not actually available there. If the Chinese government allowed it to be sold there then they’d be allowing a chunk of the internal cash flow to leave. I’m not sure they will want that.

To be honest, I doubt this will ever happen. China is distinctly protectionist and mercantilist when it comes to their internal markets. The Chinese government wouldn’t think twice about dropping a few billion dollars to bankroll a new industry in order to dominate it 10 years down the line.

I’d say it’s more likely that a few months from now Hanlin, Hanvon, and the other Chinese ereader makers will  each be offered a few hundred million dollars of capital investment. I think the Chinese government would prefer to spur the local companies in the market rather than allow the importation of what would be perceived as an American product – and more importantly – allow a US company to dominate the Chinese ereader market.

You have to agree, Amazon would quickly dominate the market. That’s true anywhere they’ve opened a local store (US, UK, but France & Germany are still up in the air). The Chinese government would know that Amazon would dominate the market and I really don’t think they’d like that.


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Robert Nagle October 31, 2011 um 3:23 pm

I suspect that the other issue is politics and state control. Therefore, 1)no USB port or card slot and 2)any book downloaded would have to comply with Chinese laws.

igorsk October 31, 2011 um 4:03 pm

Another reason they might not want official Kindle in China is because it lets users get around the Great Firewall, since all traffic comes via Amazon servers in US.

Olympia Press November 2, 2011 um 5:19 pm

When I was there last, I saw like 3 Kindles, total, in Shanghai in Chinese hands (businessmen types who were also buying from Hong Kong). There were a few of the indigenous ereaders on the subway as well. This compares to dozens upon dozens of Galaxy-type devices.

On the other hand, if you were a not-particularly attractive Chinese lad but lucky enough to own an iPad, ridiculously hot young Chinese women would fawn over you in the Starbucks and McCafe’s along Huangpi Rd. (or in Pudong near the Oriental Pearl Tower.)

/My daughter will have her own iPad, dammit.

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