E-Book Readers Still Not Viable Internet Devices

Amazon is shopping for a network in the UK to support its Kindle as Sprint does in the US. It recently dropped the price on its Kindle 2 (vs. the DX at $489) from $359 to $299, which is important for continued market growth. In my view it's still not cheap enough for the mainstream however.

Sony's digital reader ($279) competes with Kindle. And so will Plastic Logic's reader when it launches early next year. Barnes & Noble, which is pursuing a similar strategy to Amazon with readers for a range of platforms (including smartphones), said that it will be the exclusive provider of digital books to the Plastic Logic product (which will be competitively priced). In theory Hearst is developing a reader too.

Forgive any technical ignorance in the following statements but what's missing is:

  • Color
  • Internet access 

The winning e-reading device(s) will be the one(s) that is/are affordable (read: under $200 to buy, with an affordable data plan if that's necessary), offer a color screen and allow for full Internet access. I'm excited by this category of devices but want to see them become better Internet access vehicles. One can get to the Internet today on a Kindle but it's awkward.

However it can be said with relative certainty that these devices will (eventually) replace conventional newspapers and magazines for a meaningful percentage of the population. Only the time frame is at issue. And device cost more than features will drive penetration.