In the wake of rising competition and a recent price war sparked by Barnes and Noble, Plastic Logic announced it is abandoning plans to release an eBook reader of its own.
"We recognize the market has dramatically changed, and with the product delays we have experienced, it no longer makes sense for us to move forward with our first-generation electronic reading product," Rich Archuleta, chief executive officer, said in a statement. "This was a hard decision, but is the best one for our company, our investors, and our customers."
Archuleta added that his company would shift its focus away from the Que and begin building a second generation ProReader product, taking whatever time is necessary to "re-enter the market as we refocus, redesign, and retool" the Que's successor.
It's unclear exactly why Plastic Logic chose to dump it's first-gen reader, but it likely had to do with the sudden price cuts from the industry's two major players, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Coupled with the fact that Plastic Logic initially intended to sell its black-and-white Que for $650 when it was first shown off at CES earlier this year (before the iPad debuted), this cancellation was probably inevitable.
Users can no longer accuse Amazon's Kindle of being nothing more than a stuffy eBook reader too good for gaming. The Kindle Development Kit (KDK) launched earlier this year ensured it was only a matter of time before we saw some other apps for the Kindle. like the two games that have just been released.
Both titles are simple word puzzles (you weren't really expecting Quake, were you?), starting with Every Word, a world scramble game. Users are shown six or seven scrambled letters and are challenged to come up with as many words as possible. Think of it as Scrabble Lite.
The other game is Shuffled Row, which tasks users will seeing how many words they can make from 60 lettered tiles. Tiles are added to your row one at a time, giving you a constant pool of fresh letters to work with. You can think of this one as, um, Scrabble Lite as well.
Simple? Sure, and they're also both free. It's also the just the beginning of more to come, and we suspect at some point we'll see some paid games show up, as developers get a 70 percent cut of the revenue.
In one of the more interesting surveys in recent memory, Retrevo.com answers the question of where various gadgets end up being used the most. It's all part of the site's Retrevo Gadget Census 2010, which reveals, among other things, that more New Yorkers own iPads than other state.
The reason? Who really knows, though Retrevo surmises that "maybe [the iPad] is the ultimate subway companion." And what about other popular gadgets?
Maryland claims the most smartphones, possibly the result of all those government issued BlackBerry devices
Colorado prefers laptops, and Retrevo didn't even bother to try and guess why
Massachusetts is into eReaders, maybe because "with all those colleges, Boston and the rest of Massachusetts must be full of people who love to read"
Michigan is home to more point-n-shoot photographers than anywhere else
It's a neat survey that, let's be honest, holds little real world value, at least for consumers. But hey, it's fun to read where your state stands (if it made the list).
Hopefully all of you who were enticed by Amazon's new, smaller Kindle didn't sit on the fence before hitting the 'submit order' button. If you did, you may have to wait until September to get your paws on the new eBook reader.
"Due to strong customer demand, Kindle is temporarily sold out. Order now to reserve your place in line. Orders are prioritized on a first come, first served basis. Orders placed today are expected to ship on or before September 4th.," Amazon wrote on the Kindle's product page.
That's a delay of just over a week from the original August 27 launch date, but if the new prices prove popular enough, that date could get pushed back even further. Amazon released two new models, a Wi-Fi only version for $139, and a Wi-Fi + 3G unit for $189. Both devices are 21 percent smaller than the last-gen Kindle, but sport the same 6-inch reading area.
While Amazon and Barnes & Noble go for each other's jugular by releasing new and lower priced eBook readers, Sony says it's content to sit on the sidelines rather try to chase the lowest price eReader crown.
"Pricing is one consideration in the dedicated reading device marketplace, but Sony won't sacrifice the quality and design we're bringing book lovers to lay claim to the cheapest eReader," said Phil Lubell, Sony's vice president of digital reading. "Our global customers expect to get the best digital book reading experience and we’re concentrated on delivering that by investing in Sony’s award-winning design and original digital reading enhancements, such as eBook library borrowing and the only full touch-screen on the market."
Sony's comments are interesting because they seem to insinuate that the competition is cutting corners in order to lower hardware prices. That might be true with both Amazon and B&N now offering 3G-less Wi-Fi only models, but even their original eReaders recently came down in price.
What do you think is a fair price for a general purpose eBook reader?
The eBook reader market expanded by 1.35 million units in the second quarter of 2010, and while that might sound like an impressive amount of mobile readers for such a short time span, it's 33.2 percent less than the 2.02 million analysts were expecting, says Digitimes Research.
Digitimes blames the slump in shipments to customers holding out for new models, many of which ended up delayed until the third quarter. One new model that was just announced is Amazon's third-generation Kindle with a 21 percent smaller frame and same 6-inch reading area.
But buyers waiting for the latest and greatest isn't the only reason more eBook readers didn't ship out, Digitimes says.
"Two other factors also prevented shipments from reaching the target. Telecom carrier China Mobile Communications' subsidized sales of eBook readers were weaker-than-expected in the China market, and volume shipments of SiPix's e-paper solutions were delayed," Digitimes Research explains.
Taking the lead in the second quarter was Barnes & Noble with a 33 percent share of the market, followed by Amazon with 27 percent.
Remember yesterday when everyone noticed the Kindle was out of stock? Well now we know why. Amazon has announced new Kindle, but we kind of expected this one. The new model is just being called the Kindle, and brings a few improvements over the older model. The new eInk screen will have a 20 percent faster refresh rate, as well as better contrast. Internal storage has been bumped up to 4GB from the previous 2GB. Even with the new eInk screen, Amazon is claiming this unit will get a month of battery life with wireless off.
There will be two distinct models of the new Kindle. A Wi-Fi only version that will go for $139, and a 3G version for $189. The higher price is the same as the previous generation model. The keyboard has been altered with a different 5-way control, and slightly larger keys. The device is 21 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than the Kindle 2 as well. Customers will have the choice of color, either graphite, or classic white.
So, are you going to take the plunge on this new reading device? If so, will you be selling off a Kindle 2 to do so? Tell us if you find anything in this new package compelling.
In an ebook reader market that’s rapidly approaching the saturation point, a device needs to have a certain set of features to stand out from the crowd. The Alex eReader, a new ebook reader from Spring Design, has enough of them to make it an intriguing new product, and a fun one to try out, but not enough of them to warrant a buy recommendation.
First, the design of the Alex eReader is second to none. While it shares a general architecture with the Nook (an e-ink screen up top and a smaller, Android-powered, full-color touch screen below), the Alex is both better looking and more functional. At approximately 4.5x9 inches, it’s longer than the Nook, but feels surprisingly sturdy, and is easy to balance while you read. The longer design leaves room for a larger color display down below, although the e-ink display is somewhat smaller than the Kindle’s. Beauty is subjective, of course, but it’s hard to argue that the Alex eReader isn’t a fine-looking piece of hardware.
So far it hasn't been difficult to tell where eBook readers end and handheld tablets begin. For starters, eBook readers that boast a touch screen -- like the Nook -- only devote a small portion of the device to touch functionality. And secondly, the main display flips through static images.
The eBook readers of tomorrow, however, might look and act decidedly different. Sharp on Monday announced it has developed a new eBook format called "Next-Generation XMDF," which is an extension of the original XMDF (ever-eXtending Mobile Document Format) commercialized in 2001, which itself is based on XML.
Sharp says this next-gen version comes with a "more sophisticated user interface" and includes support for both audio and video. With that in mind, it's easy to see how this could one day blur the line between eBook readers and tablets, and to make sure XMDF gets some mileage, Sharp also said it plans to launch its own reader device later this year, though stopped short of providing any details.
Call it the snowball effect from Apple's iPad launch, if you will, because one after another we're seeing ebook reader makers drop their price of the hardware.
With tablets clearly ready to encroach on ebook hardware territory, Barnes & Noble quickly slashed the price of its Nook reader from $259 to $199, while simultaneously launching an even lower priced Wi-Fi only model for $149. Hours later, Amazon responded with a price cut of its own, dropping the Kindle from $259 to $189. And then on July 1, Amazon slashed the cost of its Kindle DX from $489 to $379.
Now the snowball has crashed through Sony's camp, which went and quietly dropped the price of its entire line of ebook readers. Here's how it all breaks down:
Pocket Edition: $149 (down from $169)
Touch Edition: $169 (down from $199)
Daily Edition: $299 (down from $349)
Pocketbook 360: $199 (down from $239)
Pocketbook 301: $219 (down from $279)
Pocketbook 302: $279 (down from $339)
This puts Sony in better position to compete with the competition, but is it enough? At $149, the Pocket Edition won't break the bank, but it doesn't have Wi-Fi like B&N's Nook.
With all the recent price cuts, do you plan on picking up and ebook reader? If so, which one?