We don't know when it's going to happen or who's going to do it, but someone's going to kill the Kindle. Or at the very least, many will try. That includes Samsung, who at CES announced two new e-book readers, the 6-inch E6 and 10-inch E10.
"We've used our expertise to create a high-quality e-book with today's on-the-go consumer in mind," said Young Bae, director of display marketing, Samsung Information Technology Division. "Samsung is addressing a common frustration that users experience with many of today's digital readers with a stylus that allows them to annotate their favorite works or take notes. Coupled with wireless functionality that enables sharing of content, this is a truly multi-faceted device."
The challenge for Samsung (and everyone else) is that just about everywhere you turn, someone is releasing an e-book reader. To stand out from the crowd, both of Samsung's upcoming units will come with handwriting capabilities, allowing users to write directly on the display with the built-in electromagnetic resonance (EMR) stylus pen.
Other features include low power consumption (Samsung claims just four hours of charge time is enough to last up to two weeks of use), Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
The E6 and E10 will be available in "early 2010" for $400 and $700 (yikes!), respectively.
This year’s CES is absolutely crawling with eReaders. The first real standout in that category is a demo unit from Liquavista with a full color display. This is not a LCD, though. Rather it’s more akin to the eInk screens we’re all familiar with. It could be the sort of device many people are hoping to see come to market.
The reader’s display uses the so called LiquavistaColor technology and electrowetting. This involves modifying the behavior of liquids on a solid surface by applying voltage. The display technology is impressive, but this is still just a prototype. Liquavista has preliminary plans for a late 2010/early 2011 launch. By that point though, many consumers may have already committed to an eReader platform.
A few more details have emerged regarding BenQ's upcoming e-book reader, which the company will call the nReader. In addition to launching the nReader in Taiwan next month, BenQ will push its device to China in February and then Japan in the second half of 2010, company president Jerry Wang said.
BenQ will also push out its e-book trading platform in Janaury. This will consist of over one million books available as free downloads, as well as anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 new titles, 6,000 others in simplified Chinese, and about 30,000 Japanese language books.
Wang says he expects the e-reader market to jump to over three million units in 2009 and up to eight million in 2010. Of those, BenQ is hoping to ship 50,000 nReaders in Taiwan, 200,000 in China, and 300,000 globally, Wang added.
No word on when or if BenQ plans on pushing its nReader to the U.S. market.
In an increasingly overcrowded e-reader market, content will likely decide the ultimate winner. It worked for Apple, and Sony is hoping they are on track as well by signing new deals with News Corp to add content from the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, and the New York Post to its e-ink devices.
According to Reuters, Sony will offer monthly subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal for $14.99, MarketWatch for $10.99, and the New York Post for $9.99. It seems as though Sony believes the e-ink editions formatted for their devices can command a slight premium since the Wall Street Journal online can be viewed from any web browser for less than $8 a month at today’s prices. This represents a pretty significant price delta, but it likely has something to do with the additional formatting that needs to go into reorganizing the content for a smaller screen.
Exact sales numbers for e-ink devices are hard to hammer down, but analysts currently forecast the Kindle alone will bring home about $301.4 million in revenue for Amazon in 2009, and this number is expect to grow as high as $1.8 billion by 2012. Only time will tell if the Kindle will remain the dominant platform, but clearly its still anyone game at this point.
Which e-reader do you think has the potential to become the next iPod? Or will the market fragment the way PC’s did?
Most of use remember Packard Bell as a manufacturer of craptastic PCs from over a decade ago before the company packed its bags and headed off to Europe. Believe it or not, the company is still around (now owned by Acer), and according to the latest tech chatter, Packard Bell plans to poke its head into the e-book hardware market with a color e-book reader.
There aren't many details to go on at this point, other than it will sport a color display and is slated to ship in September 2010. The company also plans to start selling content, such as movies, music, e-books, and the like.
But that's not all Packard Bell plans to push through its manufacturing pipeline. The company is also apparently working on an 11.6-inch convertible netbook that will arrive in February. Details on this one also remain sparse, but from what we were able to dig up, the upcoming netbook will feature a rotating display and turn into a tablet with multitouch support.
Barnes & Noble has been criticized for seemingly rushing to market its Nook e-book reader before manufacturing could churn out enough units to satisfy demand, and already B&N has pushed back its anticipated preorder ship date several times. According to The New York Times, however, availability is the least of the Nook's problems.
The media behemoth posted a review of the Nook on Wednesday and summarily ripped it apart. Speaking of which, the review starts out by accusing the Nook of being "ripped right out of the Kindle's master playbook," noting the same price tag, same off-white plastic frame, the same screen saver, and other similarities. Given the popularity of Amazon's Kindle, this wouldn't be a bad thing, but NYT goes on to thrash the differences between the two units as pointed out by the Nook website.
"Unfortunately, we, the salivating public, might be afflicted with a little holiday disease of our own: Sucker Syndrome," NYT writes. "Every one of the Nook's vaunted distinctions comes fraught with buzz kill footnotes."
For example, NYT points out tht the color touchscreen is just a horizontal strip that, at times, "feels completely, awkwardly disconnected from what it's supposed to control on the big screen above." And of the over one million titles B&N advertises, NYT claims that "well over half of those are junky Google scans" of out of copyright books filled with typos. Then there's the slow performance, quirky Wi-Fi, and unfinished features. Ouch.
And all that's just part of what NYT had to say. Read the entire unflattering review here.
Is NYT's review being too harsh on the Nook, or will it make you think twice about which e-book reader to buy? Hit the jump and sound off.
Amazon's Kindle is the hottest selling item across the company's entire site, and Barnes & Noble can't make enough Nook readers to satisfy demand. It would appear that e-book readers are poised to become as popular as netbooks, and that's good news all around, right? You would think so, but there are a handful of publishers playing the part of Scrooge this holiday season.
Simon & Schuster, for example, has decided to delay by four months the electronic book editions of some 35 leading titles coming out in 2010. Why? Because the publisher's not happy with the low $9.99 pricing of e-book best sellers. And they're not alone. Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group is taking a similar stance, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback," said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS Corp. "We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed base of e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible."
That's a perplexing statement, considering it probably won't be long before the install base balloons anyway. Albert Greco, a professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business who studies the book industry, predicts that the e-book retail sales could climb as highs as $201 million next year, up from $150 million this year.
"In the Internet age you don't enjoy the same degree of control," said Eric Garland, CEO of BigChampagne, LLC, an online media measurement company in Beverly Hills, California. "You can't create artificial scarcity by withholding content in one form and making it available in another."
Not wanting to be left out of in the emerging digital reader scene, both BenQ and Fujitsu will release e-book readers of their own and plan to showcase their devices at the IT Month 2009 consumer trade show in Taiwan, which runs from November 28 to January 1, 2010.
BenQ will have on display a 6-inch e-reader with a touchscreen EPD (electrophoretic display) panel. According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, BenQ will release its digital reader in January 2010, and then follow up that launch with more models in April, including a 9-inch reader.
For Fujitsu's part, the company plans to show off its 8-inch FELPia e-book reader, and there's talk that it might release the device in Taiwan sometime in 2010.
It's a pretty slick deal of Amazon to open up its Kindle library to devices beyond those of the company's handheld book readers. But just because the Kindle software has gone multi-platform doesn't mean that it's a sure winner. No, it's the ease-of-use and almost iTunes-like functionality of this simple e-book reader that makes it a great piece of software for your desktop or laptop PC.
You can't do very much with Kindle for PC aside from read books purchased through Amazon's extensive library--which, in itself, makes sense. You wouldn't really want another piece of software to read PDFs, right? Joking aside, the one thing this software does, it does well. Grabbing new book titles from Amazon is as easy as logging into the Web site, hitting download, and waiting for the book to quickly refresh itself in your Kindle for PC home screen. Your collection of digital novels appears as the front covers of each title, and you can sort this list by the order in which you downloaded the e-books, their names, or the author's name.
There’s good news and bad news for eBook fans. First up: new eBook readers using Marvell’s ARMADA 166E chip could see triple the frame rate of first generation devices. The bad news: the faster frame rate of 3 fps won’t exactly have you playing Doom just yet but low frame rate animation will possible.
Marvell doesn’t mind though. The company’s new chip isn’t meant to just increase performance, it’ll also offer a cost reduction and power reduction by shrinking what is now a multi-chip board controller board down to a single chip. Marvell showed off several OEM designs including Spring Design’s upcoming dual-screen Alex.
This dual-screen eBook puts Kindle's web-browsing features to shame.