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Amazon.com takes Kindle global

Amazon.com Inc is introducing Kindle, its wireless electronic reader, for over 100 countries, including China and most of Europe, intensifying a battle for the burgeoning digital book market.

The move, announced on Tuesday, gives the world's largest online retailer the widest global reach among its competitors, including chief rival Sony Corp.

The Kindle will sell for $279 in other countries than the US. The international version includes technology allowing it to operate in each market, but is otherwise identical to the second iteration of the Kindle - which can store up to 1,500 books, has a text-to-speech feature, and can read PDF files and allow users to make annotations.

Amazon - which regards the Kindle as a pivotal growth driver - said over 200,000 English-language books from a host of publishers as well as more than 85 international and U.S. newspapers and magazines would be available on the international device, which begins shipping October 19.

Analysts have pondered the likelihood of Amazon developing the Kindle into a tablet-like device for tasks like emailing, texting and surfing the Web, thus competing with devices reportedly being developed by Apple Inc. At the same time, Amazon is working on making Kindle digital books available on more devices. Besides the Kindle, those books can now be accessed on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Forrester Research estimated 3 million e-reader devices would be sold in the United States in 2009, up from an earlier estimate of 2 million. That could double in 2010, bringing cumulative sales to 10 million by end-2010. The research group predicts that Amazon will take 60% market share in 2009, followed by Sony at 35%. (Reuters)