Monday, 1 November 2010

Kindling in Popularity

Kindle users in China can get Twitter and Facebook
While you can't officially get Amazon's Kindle e-reader in China, it's hot property since you can jump over the Great Firewall of China and log onto blocked sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The 3G model uses GSM or global system mobile communication technology with Wi-fi coverage in over 100 countries including China.
Although you can't buy Kindles in China, you can certainly find ways of acquiring them through Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of eBay. According to a news report, a seller in Beijing has sold more than 300 in the past month. He ordered more than 30 to an address outside of China, and then got them into the country a few at a time. Kindle mule, anyone?

Kindle uses its own network called Amazon Whispernet which has wireless coverage through AT&T in the United States and its partner networks around the world. So in this case, there should be a Chinese carrier.

Professor Lawrence Yeung Kwan of the University of Hong Kong's electrical and electronic department hypothesizes mainland internet gatekeepers may have overlooked devices like Kindle, or perhaps think people buy Kindle to read books.

Another possibility is that Amazon and its Chinese carrier may have greed to transfer the connection to Amazon's station, presumably in the US, once the firewall gets a signal from Kindle.

The signal, which is probably encrypted, then goes to the partner network in China so that censors can't see what is accessed.

Unfettered access only works with the 3G models, not Wi-fi, which relies on local connections.

So far Amazon has not commented specifically about this latest observation on the mainland, but in a recent letter, the company addressed privacy and censorship this way:

"Amazon has long been committed to protecting the privacy of customers. We know customers care how information about them is used and shared, and we appreciate their trust that we do so carefully. We are committed to free expression... In addition, Amazon has long been a leading proponent of maintaining the fundamental openness of the internet."

And since border patrols have stepped up in China to make people pay taxes on iPads regardless if it's for personal use or not, perhaps sales of Kindles on the mainland will explode now that the word is out you can finally tweet or facebook to your heart's content -- for now.

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