Selected Amazon Kindle Fire tablets go on sale in Europe, but are they enough to fight off the competition?

heads or tails amazon coins highlight tradeoffs of virtual currency kindle fire hd bezos annoucementAmazon has done a great job with its new Kindle Fire HD tablets, and an even better job of capturing the headlines, as the launch prompted everything from comparisons between the new tablet and its competitors, to much talk of how the aggressive pricing will hurt everyone from Apple to Microsoft.

At first glance, Amazon has announced a series of winning products, neatly avoided the thorny issue of advertising — sorry “special offers” — and is undoubtedly listening to the sound of virtual cash registers ringing right now.

However, that old Amazon problem — international distribution of its hardware — is still exactly that: A problem.

This stretches back to the original Kindle e-reader, which took a couple of generations to make it elsewhere in the world, and now continues with the Kindle Fire and most importantly, the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD.

Here’s the good news. Amazon has done the decent thing and launched the updated Kindle Fire in five international stores — the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. All these countries will also get the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.

Pricing looks like this: The Kindle Fire will be sold for £129/159 Euros, the 16GB 7-inch Kindle Fire HD for £159/199 Euros, and the 32GB for £199/249 Euros. They’re all up for pre-order now, with a release date of October 25.

Limited international availability.

Notice anything about those lists? Right, there’s no 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, nor is there a new Kindle Paperwhite. Also missing is Canada, as it appears it won’t get any new devices at all, and Asia too.

While the Kindle Fire is cheap — and with a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution screen, it wants to be — it’s the Fire HD that will be most desired. Except, the 7-inch model isn’t really that desirable. It has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution and a dual-core processor, plus features regular folk won’t care about, such as dual-band, twin antenna Wi-Fi and Dolby Digital Plus.

Without the exciting 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD at the top of the list, will anyone be rushing to buy a 7-inch Fire over the Google Nexus 7? After all, the Nexus 7 is the same price and has the same screen size and resolution, a quad-core processor, the much-improved and completely un-abused Android 4.1 OS, no forced advertising, movie rentals, plus at the tap of a button, a free Kindle and Amazon app store app too. The Kindle Fire HD has twice the memory for the same price, but that’s all.

What’s more, the Nexus 7 is on sale in Canada and some European countries, and has been for a while, plus it has recently gone up for pre-order in parts of Asia.

Regarding the Kindle Paperwhite, which is exclusive to the US Amazon store at the moment, Kobo’s Glo will become even more tempting to international buyers now.

This will inevitably all change in the future, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has made it clear that he wants to “get into as many places as we possibly can over time.” But for now, while Amazon is welcoming its US customers with open arms, it’s nudging its international customers into the equally welcoming arms of its competitors.

Check out our full review of the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.


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