OK, this deserves a serious WTF?!?
Amazon recently announced they’d expanded availability of the Kindle digital reading device to over 100 countries. Previously the Kindle was only available in the United States.
It’s a big expansion for Amazon, taking the Kindle to Central and Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim.
One VERY noticeable and bizarre exception to this list of countries is Canada.
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No information from Amazon
No reason was given by Amazon for this omission, and a call to Amazon’s Customer Service department (1-866-321-8851) was not helpful. The CSR read what sounded like a stock response, that unfortunately the Kindle will not be shipping to Canada.
I asked whether I could buy one in the US and bring it back here and use it. She said she could not confirm whether it would work as expected. She was polite and thorough, but the complete lack of information was troubling.
What makes this issue even more ridiculous is that citizens of incredibly poor nations with low literacy rates like Burundi will have opportunity to purchase and use the Kindle.
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A few facts about Burundi
Burundi has been ranked as the poorest country in the world in in some studies and ranks at or near the bottom in others. With an average per capita income of between $400-$600 per year, A Kindle would cost roughly 1/2 of the annual income of someone in that country. And each book — costing approximately $10, would be equal to about 1 week’s pay. On top of that, the literacy rate in Burundi is approximately 60%; ranking in the lowest 1/3 of the world’s nations.
Burundi is not an exception here. A whole roster of under-developed, poorer nations including Rwanda, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Albania, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Ghana, Gabon, Madagascar, Guinea-Bissau, Nepal and Mongolia, just to name a few, can purchase this device — if they save up for about 6 months!!!
I have nothing against the people of Burundi or any other country where the Kindle is available. That is not the issue. But the availability of the device in those countries, and the lack of availability of the Kindle in Canada is troublesome. I doubt this is due to lack of interest from Amazon, but the lack of ANY specifics from my call to Amazon’s Customer Service didn’t help.
My suspicion is that there’s some issue with the wireless carriers in Canada. When the iPhone was launched in Canada, Rogers Wireless tried to gouge customers with their call/data plan. And I’ve written recently about exhorbitant data charges from these same carriers.
If anyone has any information on why the Kindle is not available in Canada, please leave a comment.
P.S. There is a Product Management object lesson in here somewhere, but I’m too incensed by what is clearly a blocking factor by some Canadian authority or telecom carrier. If it does turn out to be a wireless carrier, it’s time the Feds move in and break up these virtual monopolies. They are clearly inflicting harm on the Canadian public by preventing access to and benefit from what is increasingly a necessary utility (i.e. leveraging wireless services) for the residents of Canada.
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