wileyfoxswift2._SR300,300_Kudos to Amazon for spotlighting UK high-tech via a localized Launchpad program. A star attraction of the moment is a Cyanogen-powered smartphone, in the retail section of the UK launchpad.

For £129.99, about $197, customers in the UK can buy the Wileyfox Swift 4G Dual SIM-Free Smartphone (Cyanogen 12.1, 5″ HD Screen, Micro SD Slot, 16GB ROM + 2GB RAM, 13 MPX Rear Camera, Gorilla Glass 3). “We’re a new mobile brand that launched just a few months ago,” says Nick Muir, Wileyfox CEO. “Amazon Launchpad provides us with an exciting opportunity to drive our business on a global scale without the investment we otherwise would have needed.” Americans, weep. The new Wileyfox phone is not yet available on Amazon’s US site.

“We curate the cutting-edge so you can discover unexpected and fresh new products from today’s brightest startups,” Amazon explains. Launchpad is also intended as a gateway for entrepreneurs and startups, though, and offers a link to the Launchpad programme (note the UK spelling) for budding technepreneurs.

“At this time, participation in the new Amazon Launchpad programme is by invitation only,” Amazon says. “To be considered, your product must meet our eligibility requirements listed” in the FAQ.

Lest that seem too forbidding, the Launchpad home page also lists a host of major VCs and business accelerators, including Accel Partners, Crowdfunder.co.uk, NEA, and Y Combinator. “We’re proud to work with a growing list of venture capitalists, accelerators, incubators and crowdfunding platforms to help us identify new, inspired, and cutting-edge products for the world to discover,” Amazon Launchpad adds. “We support these young companies with Amazon’s global selling and retail expertise so they can stay focused on product innovation.”

As you can see, so far Amazon Launchpad is highlighting physical retail products, but I see no sign that it will exclude e-reading apps or other experience-enhancing riffs off Amazon”s Kindle platform – let alone e-reading devices and accessories. There’s a UK-specific email – uk-amazonlaunchpad-network@amazon.com – for budding British business brains. Certainly, Amazon Launchpad will help maintain the Bezos Behemoth’s business lead against its UK rivals, in defiance of the Amazon haters. But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, eh?


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