Just weeks after announcing a new $279 international version of its Kindle e-book reader, Amazon has chopped $20 off its price and made that model its only Kindle offering for both the domestic U.S. and international markets. In the process, the company has eliminated the U.S. version of the device, which used Sprint as the carrier for the Kindle's built-in wireless capabilities. Now, for better or worse, new Kindles will tap into AT&T's data network, which will also be the wireless provider behind Barnes & Noble's upcoming Nook e-book reader.
For those who bought the international version in recent weeks, Amazon is crediting buyers with a $20 refund. Here's the note it sent out to customers:
Good news! Due to strong customer demand for our newest Kindle with U.S. and international wireless, we are consolidating our family of 6-inch Kindles. As part of this consolidation, we are lowering the price of the Kindle you just purchased from $279 down to $259. You don't need to do anything to get the lower price--we are automatically issuing you a $20 refund. This refund should be processed in the next few days and will appear as a credit on your next billing statement.
If you bought U.S domestic version in recent days, you should get the AT&T-powered version. (We're looking into whether you can return an earlier U.S. Kindle for the newer model if you bought the U.S. one in the last 30 days).
For now anyway Amazon is not totally ditching Sprint. Drew Herdener, Amazon.com's director of communications, confirmed that the Kindle DX will continue to use Sprint's data network (no international version of the DX has been announced) and no Sprint-powered Kindle devices will have their wireless cut off.
As for reports that the Web browser is not available in the international Kindle, they may not be completely accurate. According to Engadget, Gadget Lab is reporting that you can get to the English version of Wikipedia, which leaves some hope that Amazon may open the browser to other sites. When we get the official word on what the new Kindle's browsing capabilities will be, we'll update this post.