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Posts Tagged ‘e-reader’

Dedicated e-readers vs. omni-functional smart phones

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

E-reader makers and publishers (with the exception of Apple) have focused primarily on larger, dedicated devices for displaying e-books. The result has created products like the Kindle, a larger, yet still portable device tailored specifically for the reading of e-books.However, in an age crammed full of mobile devices, can e-readers afford their myopic approach to functionality?

Last week, the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona sparked nervous chatter from in the publo-blogosphere about e-reader competition from mobile phones. Does the future distribution of e-books rest in smaller, more functional mobile phones? At least some people think so. Hannah Johnson of Publishing Perspectives says the infrastructure for a mobile reading market already exists, built on the back of 50 billion connected devices.

“In the last couple years, the growing infrastructure for delivering mobile content (app stores, secure financial services, and mobile Web sites) combined with better device technology (clear displays, touch screens, and Internet connectivity) has created a robust mobile marketplace where content creators have an ever-expanding platform for reaching consumers.”

If so many people already have access to a network capable of distributing content, publishers and application developers would be fools not to jump on board.

The mobile market also points to the importance of leveraging existing infrastructure as e-readers innovate. One of the largest hurdles e-reader viability faces is getting people to purchase a dedicated reading device — a tall order when so many people already carry around multiple electronic devices. If increasing use of smart phones can be seen as a trend — and I think few people would argue that it can’t — it makes much more sense for publishers and retailers to fold their services into those devices.

We all hate carrying multiple, bulky devices. The argument for the pocket-sized omni-tool requires little defense, except for current e-reader retailers, who seem to think consumers will prefer a dedicated device. They could still be right, but if they don’t move on the mobile market soon, someone else will (see: Apple).

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iPad an iReader?

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Apple released the long-anticipated iPad last week to tremendous hype. From Apple fanatics to juvenile humorists, we all held our breath as Steve Jobs revealed the device that months of rumors had promised would be the end-all device and the new hip tool to tote around.

But as the tweets and blog reviews came to a boil, the blogosphere seemed decidedly mixed. Publications like Wired released a lists of problems that come down to the realization that Apple left so many features out of the iPad — not to mention compatibility with all those adapters — that many people viewed the devise as a huge step backward.

However — and here I’m getting to the meat of the story — there is one feature debuting on the iPad that struck me off guard: iBooks. Apparently, Jobs means for the new iPad to become a prominent e-reader device. With its larger, glossy screen and the new iBooks store (an iTunes-esque download store), the iPad could be in a great position to bring convenient e-reading to consumers. Of course, Apple insists the iPad offers much more than e-reading, but this striking feature has many publishers and news organizations drooling over possibilities.

Will the iPad work as an e-reader? Price is certainly an obstacle. Even the cheaper, wifi-only version will run consumers a cool $499, the G3 model $829. The extra price may be justified by the fact that, after all, the iPad is more than an e-reader. However, because the device can only run one application at a time, it might as well be just another e-reader while running iBooks.

Compatibility is another potential problem. Apple has cultivated an infamous reputation for locking users into proprietary hardware and software. I can only imagine the frustration of trying to transfer my downloaded e-books to another platform.

One thing the iPad has that Amazon’s Kindle and other competitors never quite grasped is the all-important cool factor. Owning the latest Apple gadget will always be a priority for some, and that market impetus may be enough to grab dominance.

In addition, many publishers seem eager to have their content associated with the iPad. Print news media in particular will be looking for a way to monetize content on a platform of users they suspect will be willing to put up with the extra expense. Of course, answers will have to wait until the official release date, April 2010, but that won’t stop speculation.