Business daily The Nikkei says it learned that Amazon Japan, the country’s second-biggest e-commerce company, is planning to finally offer its e-book reader Kindle to Japanese customers.
According to the paper, Amazon is expected to launch Kindle devices in April this year “for less than 20,000 yen” (US$257). Apparently, the Kindle Touch will be positioned as the flagship model, while there is no word on how or if the Kindle Fire will be introduced, too.
For the 3G connection, Amazon has chosen mobile carrier NTT Docomo as its partner. Just like in other markets, Japanese Kindle owners will be able to download books over 3G for free, provided they decide to go for Kindles offering both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Rumors about Amazon Japan entering the domestic e-book market have been circulating for a long time. In November/December 2011, for example, The Nikkei speculated that the company was ready to start offering e-books by the end of 2011 (which obviously didn’t happen).
In an interview with the paper from November 2011, Yoshinobu Noma, president of major publisher Kodansha, said that he estimates Japan’s e-book market to be worth 65 billion yen (US$837 million). Noma also said that 90% of sales in this segment come from content distributed to cell phones – a number that will surely change when the Kindle becomes a hit in Japan, too.
In Japan, the Amazon device will go head-to-head with other e-readers and tablet hybrids like Sharp’s Galapagos, Sony’s E-Reader, Toshiba’s BookPlace, Panasonic’s Raboo, or Fujitsu’s Flepia.
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