Kindle 2.0 Still Not Coming To Europe; But Amazon Will Happily Sell You A Sony

So Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has confirmed the second iteration of its Kindle e-book reader – with lighter, thinner body, space for 800 more books and text-to-speech synthesis – will hit US stores on February 24. But one thing conscpicuously absent from the announcement – any semblance of UK or European launch dates.

Even the current Kindle is still missing on these shores; this will now mean Amazon has skipped a whole hardware generation – and still there’s no sign of a commitment to launching; all execs would tell my colleague David Kaplan, who covered the launch in New York, was: “We haven’t made any announcements.” That’s a pity, given British publishers including The Times, The Independent and Financial Times are already publishing to Kindle.

Search for “Kindle”, however, and you’ll find all manner of cases, covers and accessories – even the listing for Sony’s rival PRS505S e-reader, which is on sale on these shores. Perhaps Amazon’s UK team is so desperate to start selling e-readers, it’s pointing Kindle-seekers to those made by the Japanese electronics manufacturer?

The likely stumbling block to a UK Kindle is still Whispernet. Whilst in the US, Kindle’s over-the-air book and newspaper downloads are carried out over Sprint’s mobile network, the European picture is complicated by a fragmented market, UK execs have previously said. Perhaps European Commission efforts to lower cross-border data charges would help (and, after all, Amazon did eventually strike enough music licenses across Europe to launch its MP3 store here) – but the fact remains that Amazon decided to do wireless this way. Bezos said today the device drives 10 percent of Amazon sales – that’s 10 percent the company is missing out on in each of its other territories.