East Asian technology site, Tech-On!, was recently at Digital Publishing Fair 2009 in Tokyo. While there, they discovered the prototype of an oddly familiar eInk device. Here’s an image of it side by side with the Kindle 2. It’s kind of like one of those puzzles where you’re supposed to spot the differences between two pictures.
The weFound, manufactured by Founder Group (a major Chinese conglomerate), seems awfully Kindle-like. Not only do the devices have a near identical control scheme and aesthetic, they also share 6 inch displays manufactured by E Ink Corporation. Also, while wireless isn’t active by default in the weFound, all it takes is the insertion of a SIM card to download books on the go. Of course, the superficial similarites must be coincidental since its developers claim, “Peking University Founder Group independently developed this terminal, and it has nothing to do with the Kindle.”
On the bright side, the weFound doesn’t appear to be some sort of cheap knockoff. Since the eInk screen is literally the exact same one as the Kindle 2, it most likely has a similar display quality. Also, while currently only a prototype, Founder plans to eventually deploy the device in both the Chinese and the Japanese markets. Not a bad move, considering that the Kindle is still unavailable outside of the United States. Rather than trying to fool people into thinking they’re buying a Kindle, Founder wants to preemptively take its place as the leading eReader in the East Asian market. Likely to avoid legal issues due to China’s notoriously lax enforcement of intellectual properties, the weFound has a definite chance for success.