Wednesday, May 14, 2008

eInk eBook Readers: They’re All Dead, Jim!

Teleread reports on a rumored US$150 eInk ebook reader.

Too little, too late.

Next month the apps will start to flow for the iPhone and the iPod Touch (as well as any iPod Air or whatever it will be called).

And with that flow will come more ebook reading software choices than anyone could imagine.

In addition, if the price of the EDGE iPhone drops to $199 with an AT&T subsidy, why would anyone in their right mind want to spend:

$400 for an Amazon Kindle,

$300 for a Sony Reader,

or even $150 for this latest device?

Sure, I gave reasons why I favored the Sony Reader.

But check that date. That was over a year ago: October 2006.

Well before the iPhone.

The iPhone and iPod Touch can offer a more book-like reading experience than any of the current eInk devices. (Sidebar: Someone at Sony might have read that post. Their site touting a special James Patterson edition of the Sony Reader contains this ersatz rendition of Coverflow:

-- too late! And eInk can't do that anyway.)

In addition, the iPhone and iPod Touch are pocketable to take along everywhere, they have better screens, offer the promise of over-the-air ebook purchasing like the Kindle (but better!), and they won't restrict people to one ebook format.

And that's only to begin with.

Because of their color screen, more memory, more storage, and more powerful CPU, they offer the possibility of entirely new ebook formats with embedded audio and video clips.

And let's not forget the pinch-out ability to immediately increase the typeface size. Current eInk readers restrict everyone to sizes that are already built-in.

Does this mean Apple will also announce their entry into ebooks?

Not necessarily.

Apple would be very content to let others do that for a while and establish the market. Then -- and it would be insidious -- announce their own ebook file format, software, and section in the iTunes Store. Before then, they can watch sales for the Kindle and Sony Reader shrivel and die. Without that competition, the field would then be wide open.

Sony gave it a good try. They really did.

Amazon wasn't even close.

But that's it, guys. They're all dead, Jim.

He's dead, Jim!

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