Amazon opens Kindle store in China with iOS and Android apps

When it comes to China, much of the conversation centers on smartphones and tablets. Amazon is attempting to change that picture, opening a Kindle store to compete against home-grown e-book companies. One problem: there isn’t a Chinese-language Kindle available, yet.

So, Amazon, which competes against Apple, is offering iOS e-reading applications, as well as versions for Android devices. Although Chinese regulators approved the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire in June, Amazon is still working on content deals with Chinese publishers.

Apparently, the aim of the store is to establish the Amazon Kindle brand name. Local e-commerce giant China Dangdang has offered ebooks since 2011, building a library of 100,000 titles, reports say…

While Chinese ebook consumers already have reader hardware from Hanwang Technology and Shanda Cloudary, “there is pent-up demand for Amazon’s Kindle,” Mark Natkin, managing director of  Marbridge Consulting, told Reuters.

Well-regarded for its products, the Amazon Kindle is often bought overseas by Chinese.

Aside from the physical ereader, there remains the question of content. Amazon’s former operations head in China said it could be up to two years before ebook rights are obtained from Chinese publishers.

For foreign publishers hoping to cash in on the demand for ebooks in China, there is another series of  roadblocks, including a language complexity, the fact that many ebooks are read on smartphones and the penchant for Chinese companies to redact a book’s language to please China’s censors.

All of which may make dealing with EU regulators more palatable. On the same day of the Amazon announcement, Apple and four publishers settled a price-fixing case brought by the EU.

Apple, along with publishers Harper Collins, Hachette Livre, Macmillan, and  Simon & Schuster, has just agreed to remove pricing restrictions on Amazon, CNET reports.

The EU’s European Commission had charged Apple and the publishers “contrived to limit retail price competition of e-books,” breaking EU antitrust rules.

A similar case was brought against Apple and publishers in the US.

Can Amazon make a dent in the Chinese e-book market and will it help the Seattle-based internet retailer challenge Apple’s iPad?

Or, is this simply a case of  ‘me, too, me too’?