Kindle available in Burundi but not Canada?!?

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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8 responses to “Kindle available in Burundi but not Canada?!?

  1. Given that the Kindle requires a wireless provider, it probably comes down to the fees from Rogers Wireless

  2. I agree that it seems bizarre but my guess is that Rogers–not Amazon– is being difficult. After all, the wireless capability in Kindle uses the cell network. I’m sure that the Amazon guys love Canada. Who doesn’t? And isn’t Amazon in Seattle? That’s basically Canada, right?

  3. It’s most likely related to the wireless carriers in Canada, which makes the situation with wireless providers all the more frustrating.

    There is little if any competition here, rates are high, customer service is bad, options are not great. For example Canada is the only country I’m aware of where the iPhone requires a 3 (yes three) year contract.

    Rogers has been so greedy that thankfully Apple is removing Rogers’ exclusive right on the iPhone and will allow competitors to sell it. This is a first, from what I understand, for any country in the world.

    And Rogers got the iPhone because the other carriers in Canada didn’t have GSM support at the time.

    What a sad situation for the country where the telephone was invented.


  4. Ok so you are all retarded has no one seen Canadian Bacon its the law in your country that everything has to be in both English and French, meaning that if if Amazon sells Kindles to you then every book that it sells would have to be in both languages which I dont think amazon wants to translate every book they have considering that it only supports english (Even if there tech support doesnt ie INDIA)
    Its your own countries fault go talk to your government if you wanna change that.

    • Doc,

      I’m not sure if you are serious (which would be really scary) or joking (as the tone doesn’t appear that way).

      If you are serious — and I hope you’re not — Canadian Bacon is a FICTIONAL movie. It’s not a factually correct representation of Canada. Don’t believe it.

      If you are joking — and I hope you are — a smiley or two might help get the sardonic tone across much better.

  5. My best guess is this:

    If this was a year ago (or even half), there’d be no guessing who would get the Kindle (Rogers). That’s because the Kindle uses GSM (Sim cards), and over the last several years, Rogers has been the ONLY provider with this type of technology. Now, Bell and Telus (formerly using CDMA) are staring to make the switch to GSM, along with about 3 other new carriers being set up, which are very likely to use the same technology. When everyone is now at the same level, and the Kindle can only go to one carrier, what do we get?

    The C word we haven’t heard in ages in the cellphone market: Competition.

    The fact that the Kindle’s not in Canada while the rest of the world is using it now sucks, but the fact that Amazon actually has to decide what carrier to give it to actually might be a good sign for the consumer. For example, we might actually see lower prices, since everyone’s trying to compete for the best deal, unlike the state where we’re in now, where Rogers ramps up the prices for everything and no one can do anything about it.

    But that’s just my guess.

  6. dont we have some kind of antimonopoly trust?
    if europe can sue microsoft multiple times, who will take on rogers?
    i hate to see skydome called rc.