Amazon Kindle Touch Heading to UK, But No Fire Sale

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A touch screen version of the Kindle will hit UK shelves on 27 April, but news about Kindle Fire launch remains scarce

Amazon is to release a touchscreen version of its successful Kindle eBook reader in the UK, but has not revealed any plans to ship the successful Kindle Fire tablet here.

The Kindle Touch, which was launched in the US five months ago, will also debut in France, Germany, Italy and Spain on 27 April.

Touch it

The Wi-Fi only version of the device will cost interested parties £109 in the UK, with 3G connectivity costing an additional £60 on top of that, although no monthly fee is required. Unlike the US however, there will be no discounted version supported by advertising and the e-reader is 70g heavier and slightly larger than the £89 standard Kindle.

To soften the blow, Amazon has added a number of improvements to this new premium model, such as an “experimental web browser”, although this will only work on a Wi-Fi connection.

The much-requested ability to view eBooks in landscape mode in addition to portrait has been added, as has an exclusive x-ray feature that lets users find related passages in a book as well as information from Wikipedia and Amazon’s own community-written encyclopaedia Shelfari.

Amazon says that it sells over one million Kindles a week and users will have access to over one million eBooks, which the company says now outsell paperbacks.

“Readers in the UK buy an average of 4 times the number of books they purchased prior to owning a Kindle,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, Kindle at Amazon EU. “With the launch of Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G we expect to see this reading renaissance continue.”

Playing with fire

However despite reports yesterday that Amazon planned to release three new tablets in 2012 and earlier suggestions that it would receive a UK launch in January, there are still no details about when, if ever, the Kindle Fire will see these shores.

The $199 (£126) Kindle Fire has been phenomenally successful in the US, where it has been seen as the first genuine competitor to Apple’s market-leading iPad. The device uses a customised version of Google’s Android mobile operating system, has a 1024 x 600 multi-touch display, 8GB of storage, a speedy web browser named Silk as well as access to Amazon’s catalogue of audio and video content.

It has been predicted that the Kindle Fire could secure as much as half of the Android tablet market in 2012, and reports that each device is making Amazon $136 (£87) per device, appears to vindicate the company’s decision to position it as a loss-leader.

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