Mother's Day 2010 is officially in the books, and it's now time to look ahead to Father's Day. To help you do that, Borders is now accepting pre-orders for the upcoming Kobo eReader, a $150 device Borders hopes will hold its own against Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.
"The Kobo eReader is the eReader for everyone and is now available in the U.S. – launching at Borders," said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. "At $149.99 the Kobo eReader is roughly $100 less than the other eReading devices out there, so it provides a great way to start eReading without breaking the bank. We couldn’t be happier about partnering with a brand like Borders which shares our commitment to technological innovation, high quality, and customer value."
Kobo will come pre-loaded with the Borders eBook app, giving users access to over a million ebooks, through USB or via Bluetooth. It will also come with 100 classic books already downloaded, with enough memory (1GB) to store 10 times as many, and an SD card slot to add even more.
Barnes and Noble had grand visions for its Nook ebook reader when the device first launch at the tail end of 2009, but other than an initial flurry of sales, the ebook reader hasn't been able to pluck the crown off of Amazon's market-leading Kindle. Maybe things are starting to turn around.
According to DigiTimes Research, ebook reader shipments to Barnes and Noble jumped ahead of shipment numbers to Amazon for the first time in March, indicating that demand for the Nook might finally be starting to pick up. Looking at figures from upstream suppliers, the Nook accounted for some 53 percent of ebook readers shipped to US vendors last month.
The Nook's future now looks a little brighter than it has been. B&N just recently released another firmware update -- version 1.3 -- which, among other things, purports to kick performance up a notch yet again. In addition, B&N recently struck a deal with Best Buy to carry the company's ebook reader both in the electronic chain's brick and mortar stores and website.
Beginning April 25, you'll be able to stroll into Target's flagship downtown Minneapolis store or one of 102 south Florida stores and purchase Amazon's Kindle ebook reader, Target announced today.
"We’re excited to be working with Amazon to help even more readers discover Kindle, in-store only at Target," said Mark Schindele, senior vice president, Target. "We strive to enhance our product offerings to include surprising products and services at great values so we’re proud to be the first brick-and-mortar retailer to sell Kindle, allowing our guests to feel how lightweight and easy on the eyes Kindle is."
Prior to this, Kindle has only been available online direct from Amazon. But that was before the ebook reader wars got a lot more interesting when, earlier this month, Best Buy confirmed plans to carry Barnes and Noble's Nook. What's more, Apple's iPad and a flurry of other handheld tablets on tap threaten to cut into the Kindle's market share, and we suspect this limited brick and mortar run will end up expanding to other markets.
The Kindle will sell for the same price ($259) in Target as it does online.
Right now the line between ebook readers and handheld tablets have been drawn, but as time goes on, we may see the line separating the two segments start to blur. Enter Liquavista, a Dutch firm who has developed a color ebook reader that supports video and may end up including Web browsing as well.
Liquavista tapped into a technology called "electrowetting," which the company claims is up to four times more energy efficient than LCD screens. Electrowetting involves small electrical charges moving colored oil within each pixel, and also has the advantage of fast image loads. According to Liquavista, the new display can change images at up to 60 times per second, whereas current ebook readers can take up to 2 seconds to load each page.
"You certainly could see this technology in your smartphone, in your mobile phone, in your Web tablet, in your PC, in your notebook" said Guy Demuynck, head of the firm. But eventually you could see it in your home as your television screen in your living room."
Even more promising for ebook readers and other portable devices, Liquavista says electrowetting works well in sunlight.
Just a few months ago, the Nook was one of the hottest holiday items, so much so that Barnes and Noble had trouble keeping up with demand. But starting this Sunday, April 18, you'll be able to drop by any Best Buy store and pick up B&N's $260 ebook reader.
The deal makes Best Buy the first chain (other than Barnes and Noble) to carry the Nook, giving the ebook reader more than double the exposure it's been getting from B&N's website and 723 bookstores. In addition, Best Buy said it plans to include Barnes and Noble's BN eReader software on some of the PCs and smartphones it sells.
This is a great move for Barnes and Noble, who not only is up against Amazon's Kindle, but more recently has been put in a position to go up against Apple's iPad. Apple last week said it has sold about 450,000 iPads in its first few days, while B&N hasn't released any sales figures for its Nook.
On a side note, Best Buy also sells Sony's ebook reader. Amazon's Kindle is only available on its website.
Display maker Viewsonic has quietly thrown its hat into the ebook reader ring by unveiling the VEB620 and VEB625, a pair of ereaders that have so far been unaccompanied by a press release or any kind of fanfare.
Both models sport a 6-inch E-ink display, 2GB of onboard storage, and an accelerometer so you can view your ebooks in either landscape or portrait mode. Other features include a 3.5mm headset jack, SD card slot, a 0.5W speaker, support for MP3 audio, and support for XML (epub, fb2), HTML (HTML, HTM), PDF, TXT, and RTF.
Viewsonic says you can turn pages by using the left and right buttons or by shaking the ereaders left or right. The slightly taller (10.9 inches vs 9.9 inches) VEB625 adds touch functionality to the mix so you can also use a finger swipe to turn pages, take freehand notes and highlight sections, and peck notes on a virtual keyboard. In addition, the VEB625 integrates Wi-Fi connectivity.
We're still a day away from the much anticipated launch of Apple's iPad, but already the tablet from Cupertino has managed to make its presence known. According to an AFP report, Amazon has agreed to let two more major publishers raise the prices of electronic books for Kindle readers in deals similar to those Apple struck for its iPad.
The deals with Simon & Schuster and Harper-Collins allows for ebook prices to be set at $12.99 or $14.99 rather than the $9.99 price point Amazon has tried to maintain.
This marks a major win for publishers, who previous to the iPad had little leverage in negotiating deals with Amazon. Amazon might have been on borrowed time anyway with the deluge of ebook readers expected to flood the market this year, and perhaps no one is happier right now than Rupert Murdoch, chairman and managing director of News Corp., the parent company of Harper-Collins.
"Without content, the ever larger and flatter screens, the tablets, the e-readers and the increasingly sophisticated mobile phones would be lifeless," Murdoch stated earlier this year. "Without content these ingenious and wonderful devices would be unloved and unsold."
Are you prepared to pay up to $15 for an ebook, or is the publishing industry shooting themselves in the foot?
Any manufacters still dragging their feet when it comes to getting into the eBook reader business might want to get the ball rolling. A new report suggests there will be a lot of cash at stake as ebook reader shipments surpass $3 billion in 2013, compared to $244 million in 2008.
That figure rests on the assumption that the e-reader market continues to grow, which will depend on what kind of threat the emerging tablet brouhaha poses. But as DigiTimes Research sees it, ebook reader shipments will continue to scale upwards, growing from 700,00 units shipped in 2008 to 28 million units in 2013. That would represent a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 386 percent.
As it currently stands, Amazon and Sony sit on top of the e-reader hill, but DigiTimes predicts a "major shakeup" in 2010, both from Barnes & Noble as it becomes more competitive, and from any number of niche players looking to ride the e-reader gravy train.
Apple isn't the only one who stands to make a lot of money off of its iPad tablet - app developers do too. Enter Amazon, who along with Barnes & Noble, revealed to The New York Times plans to create new digital readers and storefronts for the iPad.
"We have actually developed a tablet-based interface that redesigns the core screen and the reading experience," said Ian Fred, vice president for Kindle at Amazon. "Our team had some fun with it."
According to NYT, the Kindle app for the iPad allows readers to slowly turn pages with their fingers. The interface also introduces a couple of new ways for owners to view their ebook collection, including a view where large thumbnails of book covers are displayed on a backdrop of a silhouetted figure reading under a tree. What's cool about the backdrop is that the sun's position coincides with whatever time it is.
Amazon has also set up a page to promote "Kindle Apps for Tablet Computers," which includes all tablets.
"Tablet computers, including the iPad, are coming and with our free app you'll be able to read more than 450,000 Kindle books," Amazon claims. "Like all Kindle apps, Kindle for table computers will include Whispersync technology, which automatically synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your Kindle and Kindle compatible devices including PC, Mac, iPhone, and BlackBery."
Carrying an armful of heavy textbooks to and from class may become a thing a past, that is if Marvell has anything to do with it. That's because Marvell this week announced a self-recognized "bold new education initiative" to deliver a sub-$100 mobile tablet called "Moby" that the company claims could eliminate the need for buy and carry bount textbooks.
"Education is the most pressing social and economic issue facing our country and our times. I believe the Marvell Moby tablet can ignite a life-long passion for learning in all students everywhere. Marvell's goal is to fundamentally improve the way students learn by giving them more efficient, relevant -- even fun tools to use. Marvell's Moby tablet recognizes that every student learns differently and so it delivers an array of media choices fo different learning styles," said Weili Dai, Marvell's co-founder, VP, and GM of Marvell Semiconductor's Consumer and Computing Business Unit.
Marvell goes on to list out several advantages over traditional textbooks, which the company says are rising in cost and are too heavy for students. But are schools -- and society -- ready to switch to tablets? We'll soon find out. Marvell said it will soon announce a pilot program in partnership with the District of Columbia Public School system (DCPS) where the company will donate a Moby tablet to every child in an at-risk school.