Google Enters the E-Reader Fray

Just when I thought Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) owned everything with their new Google+ social network site launched last week, I found out that they hadn’t gone after the Kindle yet…until now.

Google’s new e-reader is called iriver Story HD, and is the same price at Kindle Wi-Fi at $139.  The device will be available in at Target starting July 17.  It looks a lot like the Kindle with the keyboard and is about the same size.  The Google e-reader will have access to books in the cloud.  Many are free and public domain books, but users can purchase books online as well.

The good part about the books being in the cloud is that they can be accessed from any smartphone or PC without having to move the file itself.  Cloud computing is really taking off, with Amazon’s unlimited cloud storage and Apple’s iCloud coming with iOS5.

I really think that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is way ahead of the game here because the Kindle has been out for four years.  Story HD also needs to be available in other places besides Target.  The Kindle is available in several retail stores in addition to Amazon’s store.  The only real competition for the Kindle so far is the NookColor, which just recently bypassed the Kindle in sales.  The Nook and Sony Reader touch are picking up steam, however.   But, who knows, the rumored Kindle Tablet might just blow that competition away.

Speaking of tablets, I will say the iPad is a whole different ballgame.  It is more like a computer than an e-reader.  I just got one, and plan to keep my Kindle for awhile yet.

The other thing is, Amazon’s niche is books, magazines, and other media.  So, they have a long running relationship with authors and publishers.  Google seems to want to be an umbrella of things.  I think that it is better to excel in one area than try to venture into a lot of different markets.

But, Google is doing a good job so far with acknowledging user feedback on its products during their beta stage, particularly for Google+.  So, I’m sure they will do the same for the iriver Story HD.

Here’s a video of the iriver Story HD if you want to see it in action.


Kindle Tablet to Hit the Market in October

I haven’t seen an official Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announcement yet, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the Kindle Tablet and two other Kindle upgrades are set to arrive in October.  The Kindle Tablet that has been under speculation for months will directly compete with the iPad, while a new touch version of the Kindle will compete with the Nook and Kobo Touch editions.

To be honest, in a matter of personal preference, I am more excited about the possibility of a touch version of the Kindle because I’m not a big fan of the keyboard.  Whenever this does get release, I’ll be ready to upgrade my Kindle.  The keys are way too small and somewhat difficult to press.  However, when the touch version does arrive, there will need to be some kind of audio enabled to make sure it is accessible for people with disabilities.

As for the tablet.  This is exciting news, but the iPad has a pretty solid hold on the tablet market, and is said to be successful on into the next year.  So, I think that it will be awhile before the Kindle Tablet will make a huge dent in iPad sales.  There are also a number of other tablets to choose from as well.  Although, I will say, a much cheaper Kindle Tablet might just give Amazon a good start in the tablet game, as will the well liked Android operating system.  I see the iPad to the tablet market as the Kindle is to the e-reader market.  They are both the inventors of their own niches, and were the only ones to hold their niches for a good length of time.

Lastly, there will be an upgrade on the current version of the Kindle.  It will be similar in structure, but include better features and a lower price.  Prices are dropping constantly.  Amazon just dropped the Kindle 3G Special Offers version from $164 to $139.  So, perhaps a $99 or less version of the Kindle is in the near future?  We can only hope!