eReaders: A Market Comparison Robert Elding Marketing Director YUDU Media
eReaders: A Market Comparison In the year 2020 we might well look back ten years and pinpoint Wednesday 27th January 2010 as the moment in time when publishing changed forever.
Will Apple’s iPad change consumer perceptions of eReaders? In our view, yes. Most certainly.
Sensationalist? Perhaps, but given the impact of Apple’s iPod and iPhone, you would be forgiven for thinking that the launch of the Apple iPad could have a similar impact on the book, newspaper & magazine industry. Today’s unveiling, amidst the usual fanfare and geek hysteria normally associated with an Apple product launch certainly didn’t disappoint. The Apple iPad has simply taken eReader technology by the throat and in one swift move hurled it forward by a decade.
E-publishing ‘lift off’ First generation eReaders, especially those that came before the launch of Amazon’s Kindle in November 2007, were perceived as clunky and one dimensional. With consumers used to working on multi-media laptops, the eReaders’ monochrome displays were seen as a step backwards, not forwards. Despite the rapid evolution of these devices, this perception has stuck fast even though the latest second generation of eReaders have high resolution displays, buttons to customise how the text is displayed, and even Internet connectivity.
Already the US market has seen a strong shift in ebook popularity spurred on by Amazon’s Kindle which accounts for 32% of all digital books viewed in the country. Indeed, according to the US Book Industry Study Group (BISG), every fifth book in the US is now sold as an ebook, citing ‘affordability’ as the primary factor. The Apple iPad will see this trend reach ‘lift off’ phase - across not just books but newspapers and magazines as well.
Robert Elding, Marketing Director of YUDU Media, says: “the future has arrived with the Apple iPad and in very short order you can expect rapid developments in how media is consumed.” Elding continues, “publishers will simply wi-fi their content to the latest generation of eReaders and with print costs erased you can expect content to be significantly cheaper than newsstand prices.”
Elding cites France’s Le Monde as a key example of a publisher allowing its content to be accessed at vastly reduced digital rates (6 Euros a month) yet still achieving significant revenue with its 100,000 subscribers.
eReader market observations This comparison whitepaper compares all the major eReader devices on the market as of 27th January 2010.
Firstly, a few further observations about the market in general:
Most current eReaders make use of electronic ink display technology (also known as e-paper), which mimics the appearance of pages of paperback books.
1 The prices of various eReaders are on a downward curve,
ensuring that a significant number of consumers will be able to afford these devices in the near future.
The technology is different from mainstream flat panel PC display technology, which uses backlighting in order to illuminate the display screen. Because electronic paper displays use no backlighting, the display can therefore be comfortably used in bright conditions.
2 eReaders encourage paperless reading, thereby curbing the
need to cut down trees for making paper. This way, it can be argued, the devices help in the preservation of forests and our environment through the non-use of ink etc. The eco-friendly nature of eReaders will be a key driver in their future growth.
3 Government backing of eReaders, particularly in education,
will add significant ‘push’ to their popularity. Governor Schwarzenegger’s decision to put all Californian text books online last year is simply the first move of many in this sector.
Electronic paper displays also use considerably less power in order to keep the display active. There has been a recent spate of new eReaders before the launch of Apple’s iPad, with a rapidly growing number of manufacturers like IRiver (Story), Samsung (Papyrus), Foxit (eSlick), and Jinke (Hanlin V3) launching their own devices. The specifications of many of these eReaders are similar, including monochrome screen, fully functional keyboard, and high performance power supply.
eReader Comparison Apple iPad: Apple has chosen to release their new device, the iPad, aiming it at many different potential user markets. This clearly sends out a message in the publishing world as a Kindle killer. With its’ new built in iBook store (similar to iTunes store for books), it is signing up with five partners initially - Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Hachett book group. Running on a new faster processor, it has a 9.7 inch screen and weighs 1.5 pounds, putting it into the same size level as the Kindle DX, leading to a potentially worrying time for Amazon. Unlike the Kindle however, the iPad has to deal with WiFi-only internet access on the basic models, being priced between $499-699 depending on storage options (16,32 and 64 GB). The Kindle’s built in WhisperNet works anywhere there is a mobile signal, for free (having been paid for by Amazon).
Apple will offer a version including 3G mobile access, for an extra $129 per model, plus another $14-30 per month for a data plan from AT&T (in the U.S.). Steve Jobs commented that it will be able to run iPhone applications, and developers will be able to work to the new screen size using the updated iPhone Operating System OS SDK, from the launch day. Apple believes that the new device will sit neatly between the smart phone and the laptop, and that it has to be better at tasks like browsing, email, photos, e-books, and videos than both. It has an interface that’s very reminiscent of the iPhone, although it’s significantly expanded and altered. The built-in apps are much more like the Apple Mac experience, rather than the iPhone. It has versions of iPhoto and iTunes for the iPad. Location services that lets the Map app autolocate, are also built in to the device.
Barnes and Noble Nook: The Android-driven eReader from B&N has made quite a name for itself, owing to its colour touchscreen which sets it apart from the monochrome crop of eReaders typically available.
Amazon Kindle 2: Having debuted in US on November 19, 2007, Amazon’s Kindle has gained a growing cult of fans by virtue of its sleek looks, high-contrast display, easy to use controls and respectable battery life. The second avatar of the reader, Kindle 2, went on sale on February 23, 2009. An improved version of the original Kindle, the Kindle DX, was also launched on May 6, 2009, which supported PDF files natively, as opposed to the first version. All versions of Kindle feature an “electronic paper” monochrome display, which has a high contrast to facilitate reading in varied intensities of lighting, and sport a resolution of 600 x 800. Kindle has an internal memory of of 2 GB (4 GB in select models), which allows the user to store 1,500+ eBooks in the device at any given time.
The reader, with dimensions of 7.7 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches and with just 11.2 oz weight, is superbly portable and also sports a rechargeable battery that the user can replace in case of a malfunction. The inbuilt 2 GB of storage memory, which is expandable up to 16 GB via Micro SD card, is another big plus point.
Sony Reader: Manufactured by the electronics giant from Japan, the Sony Reader uses a 600 x 800 pixel electronic paper display. In some models, the display is also touch sensitive, facilitating easy operation. The device is also lightweight, weighing a mere 10 oz, and allows for hours of strain-free reading. As an added bonus, the device can also play MP3 & AAC (unencrypted) audio files.
The recent Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show 2010 showcased some of the very latest eReaders on the market, which brought into focus the way these devices are evolving to match consumers’ requirements. Most of these models were not commercially available at the time of writing, but are due to come to market in 2010. The three star products of the show included:
Other noteworthy specifications of the reader:
• With a dimension of only 9 inches by 11 inches by 0.268 inches and a weight of less than 500 gram, the device is portable enough to ensure hours of relaxed reading.
• Supports both short and long range wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi
& 3G respectively.
• Boasts a battery life of about one week (with infrequent usage of wireless connectivity) after one full charge.
• Sports an internal memory space of 4 GB with more than 3 GB
available for content storage.
The new eReader from Skiff created quite a buzz due to its most radical feature - the world’s first touchscreen made of a flexible sheet of stainless steel covered with plastic. The screen not only looks slick, but is also shatterproof, ensuring that it will stay in one piece even if the device is accidentally dropped on the floor. The screen supports operation via both fingers and stylus, ensuring that users can operate the reader based on their preferences. The screen supports operation via both fingers and stylus, ensuring that users can operate the reader based on their preferences.
Skiff Reader, powered by Sprint Networks, is expected to hit the market later in 2010.
Plastic Logic Que: This upcoming eReader from Plastic Logic features a shatter-proof plastic touchscreen and is almost the size and thickness of a regular notepad. The display is monochrome, but sports a high contrast to facilitate easy reading under varying light conditions. The inbuilt 4 GB memory allows the user to store as many as 35,000 documents and eBooks. Plastic Logic has not revealed much information about its reader, and instead has chosen to do so at the time of launch, scheduled for April 2010.
EnTourage eDGe: The brand new eReader from Virginia-based EnTourage consists of two devices packed into a single body. The left side of the device has the eReader, while the right side features a fully functional netbook. The two screens are synchronized with one another as well, which means that if the user comes across an unfamiliar word while reading an eBook, he can simply high-light it and look it up on Google via the netbook. The netbook runs on Google’s Android operating system, resulting in an easy to use interface that is easily accessible even for novice users. Other features include:
• Quite portable at 8 1/4 by 10 3/4 by 1 inch dimensions, while weighing a little less than 3 pounds.
• Sports 3 GB of usable on-board memory capacity, allowing the user to keep many hundreds of eBooks to hand.
• The lithium battery provides backup of 16 hours (once fully charged) and can be swapped with another battery quickly and simply.
These apart, some of the other anticipated eReaders due for release in 2010 include Bookeen Orizon eReader, Copia eReader, Fujitsu FLEPia, Hanvon WISEreaders, RCA/Audiovox Lexi eReader, Samsung E6 & E10 eReaders, and Spring Design Alex eReader. Some of these eReaders have made use of electronic ink technology, while others utilize full-color, backlit LCD display screens. 2010 will also witness the release of a number of tablet PCs, which can be used as eReaders. The keyboard-less HP Slate is the most anticipated, as presented by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2010. Other’s include Cydle’s M7 Tablet, Dell “Streak” Slate, Freescale Tablet, HP TM2, Levono IdeaPad, MSI Dualscreen Ultramobile PC Prototype, an unnamed tablet from Nvidia and Verizon, Paradigm Shift EMT-10AB/W tablet, and Viliv S10 Blade Netvertible.
Conclusion The Apple iPad is a quantum leap, not just for eReaders but for electronic publishing in general. The device takes eReader technology to a whole new level and will no doubt capture the public’s imagination in the same way that the iPod and iPhone have done in their respective markets.
2010 is the year the eReader will finally enter the mainstream. And stay there.
• The inbuilt video camera allows recording videos in MP4 and 3GP formats
Amazon Kindle 2:
eReader Pros and Cons – Comparison Apple iPad: Pros:
• Portable - smaller than a laptop, with connectivity options that are similar.
• Cost and ongoing data plans for ebook reading - up to $830 + $30 a month. (UK price likely to be £600-700 GBP)
• Can use any existing iPhone app. (although this is simply scaled up and can look odd) • Uses a 1Ghz new Apple chip. • 10 hours of battery life. (very good versus a laptop, very bad versus a Kindle)
• Usability (on screen keyboard versus real keyboard) - there’s a dock with a built in keyboard sold separately to negate this.
• High resolution, flexible LED screen, allowing hassle free navigation and comfortable reading.
• At $649, it is one of the most expensive eReaders ever.
• Support eBooks, Microsoft Word documents, Excel workbooks and PowerPoint presentations.
• High memory capacity; more than 1,500 eBooks.
• At a price tag of $359, the reader is highly expensive.
• High performance battery; runs for days after charging.
• No color display.
• Free built -in support for wireless 3G network: no need to look for Wi-Fi hotspots. • Fast downloading speed; eBooks download in less than 1 minute. • Free access to digital magazines, newspapers, Wikipedia plus more than 1,000 blogs.
• Heavier than a Kindle.
Plastic Logic Que:
• Screen resistant to physical impacts.
• Online business partner Barnes & Noble has launched its own eReader, the Nook, causing a concern over the titles it will allow to be down-loaded through the Que. • Other cons will be known once the device hits the stores in April 2010.
• Documents created in Microsoft Word and PDF files can be e-mailed directly to Kindle 2.
• The battery is not replaceable. If the power cells die, the device is rendered useless. (Repair costs $60 + shipping) • No external memory card slot so no way of extending storage capacity. • Documents and PDF files e-mailed to the reader have to be converted before opening. • The device doesn’t include a shock-resistant cover, which costs a further $30.
• Supports complete text to speech conversion- users can listen to eBooks. • Has an improved sleek look with an enhanced 16-level grey scale electronic display. • Saves users money; NY Times bestseller on the Kindle costs less than half of price of the hardcovers. (approx.)
Barnes and Noble Nook:
• High resolution paper display and separate color LCD touch screen allow for comfortable reading and easy navigation.
• Slow to boot up and access titles from the library.
• The device sports a shatter- proof, touchscreen display, made of a flexible stainless sheet coated with plastic, enhancing durability.
• No information about the cons is available, as the device is not yet on sale.
• Free support for wireless data network and WI-Fi hotspots. • High memory capacity; 1,500+ eBooks, plus up to 2 GB extension with a Micro SD card. • Battery can be removed and replaced by the user. • Allows user to read many eBooks for free, while browsing through the B&N store. • Some eBooks can be shared among friends for free, even using different eReader devices.
• Frequent usage of LCD touch screen can significantly impact battery life. • No support for Microsoft Word documents and text files. • Some notable bugs in the software. • No books can be downloaded outside US, even via the Wi-Fi network. • Not shipped with a cover, must be purchased separately.
• Touch-sensitive screen allowing user to change text size and flip through pages quickly. • Massive 11.5-inch display; supports resolution of up to 1600 x 1200, allowing for comfortable reading. • Users will be able to transfer files from a PC via USB or wireless network. • Support for 3G network is also available via Sprint. • The device ships with 4 GB onboard memory, of which 3 GB is usable for storing data.
• Full compatibility with ePublishing technology allows users to read eBooks in most of the popular eBook formats, as well as free Google books.
• High capacity memory; 4 GB, of which 3GB is usable for storing data.
• The Nook can also display image files and play MP3 tracks.
• Memory capacity can be extended further via Micro SD card.
• PDF files and eBooks already owned by user can transfer directly to the device. • Device runs on Google Android.
• It is essentially a 3-in-1 device, and can fulfill the roles of an eBook reader, a netbook, and a smart phone.
• No information about the cons will be available until the device is released in February 2010.
• Large sized ePaper display facilitates easy reading. In some models it is also touch-sensitive, allowing hassle free navigation.
• Limited collection of titles available at the Sony bookstore.
• The eReader portion boasts of a high resolution touchscreen LCD display, which allows for hassle free navigation and comfortable reading.
• Most models can play MP3 and unencrypted AAC audio files. • Full metal body enhances durability and resistance versus physical impacts.
• High resolution touchscreen LCD display allows for hassle free navigation and comfortable reading.
• Device has to be connected to a PC to transfer eBooks. • Device does not support wireless networks or Wi-Fi hotspots.
• Looks much better than the current crop of eReaders. • Supports more document formats than Kindle and Nook.
• It runs on Google Android operating system.
• Cheaper than other e-readers on the market plus $150 credit offer if spend over $299 in the Sony online store.
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