Here’s some bad news for Amazon and the Kindle. Best Buy is planning on selling the iRex and Sony Reader in their stores. Now not only will customers be able to see the eReaders physically on display, but many people will just come upon them out of happenstance.
This blog has made the point before that Amazon should sell the Kindle in more places. Best Buy is the perfect kind of place to sell eReaders to people who would normally not even think about them. Best Buy, after all, is not generally thought of as a destination for tech-savvy people. Their bread and butter customer is someone who comes in wanting a computer/tv/etc, but doesn’t know a lot about it. Now with the iRex and Sony Reader, people who would never normally be early adopters will hold the devices and have a sales rep walk them through the features. I wouldn’t be surprised if eReaders become a big holiday gift this year, even among those with no interest in gadgets.
According to the article, the iRex’s wireless will also be entirely paid for in the cost of the device. But, in a followup to Andry’s comments, it turns out that the iRex will not include web browsing functionality. So when they say the cost of wireless is included, they really mean the cost of downloading books that you are already paying for.
iRex’s latest attempt to best the Kindle just got a little more legitimate. While early specs on the latest iRex Reader promised 3G wireless capabilities, actual plans for a carrier were up in the air. That’s all changed with the announcement that iRex will be the first eReader to use the Verizon network.
The reader has now managed to duplicate many of the important features the Kindle offers. Not only can it download books wirelessly from anywhere with cell reception, but it also is connected to the Barnes & Noble store. Of all of Amazon’s competitors, I have to say that Barnes & Noble seems to do the best at challenging the entire Kindle experience. In the future, buying and reading books from either company should be fairly similar. Amazon’s strength lies in early dominance, but B&N may be able to make up for this through brand recognition and their ubiquitous brick and mortar stores. For people who are reluctant to switch to an eReader, being able to associate with a familiar, non-cyberspace chain is going to go a long way.
But one question I have is how much customers will need to pay for data transfer. On the Kindle, Amazon pays Sprint for all the bandwidth their customers use. As far as I can tell, this isn’t going to happen with the Barnes & Noble store. Not only is their store compatible with eReaders from two different companies (iRex and Plastic Logic), but both companies use different wireless providers (Verizon and AT&T, respectively). This seems to suggest that business surrounding the wireless faculty of the readers will be handled completely separate from the B&N store. Does this mean that wireless costs will be different for either reader? Or that customers will need to sign contracts for service agreements? In general, cell phone companies aren’t very well liked by consumers. If customers are made to sign up for a data plan when buying an eReader, I think they will be more likely to consider the Kindle instead.
If you are new to eBook industry and would like to catch up on all of the relationships between different Amazon Kindle and other different devices and companies in the e-Book universe. This picture created by techflash.com is just the right thing for you. There is also PDF version available that has every arrow linking a related story on techflash.com. You can download it by clicking on the picture below. It will really be worth your time.
eBook Universe by techflash.com
I guess this picture really is worth a thousand words… Great work, TechFlash!
This is big news for both iRex and Barnes & Noble. News of the new iRex reader has been taken with a grain of salt, due to the company’s so-so track record. By gaining a huge library of books to back up their 3G capabilities, the new iRex reader gains some extra credence. But Barnes & Noble is an even bigger winner in this case. Their store is set up to more or less mimic the Kindle platform. Up until now, Barnes & Noble was betting on the Plastic Logic Reader to help them compete with Amazon. With the iRex reader, things are different now. Barnes & Noble is still competing with the Kindle, but instead of manufacturing their own device they are letting their customers choose from a handful of eReaders from competing companies.
If more readers are added to Barnes & Noble’s platform, they could prove successful in luring customers away from Amazon. Right now, however, I don’t think Amazon needs to be too worried. With both the Kindle and the Kindle DX, Amazon is offering just as wide an array of devices as Barnes & Noble is.
iRex was one of the earlier entrants in the eReader market, mainly known for the not super successful iLiad. While most of iRex’s earlier devices were overly expensive high-end readers, their newest product appears to be a bit more consumer-oriented.
The screen size is 8.1 inches, making the new reader a sort of one size fits all between the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX. The biggest new feature is 3G, but no details have been revealed yet about what carrier iRex will be associated with. For that matter, there isn’t very many details about the device in general. The image above is only a mockup, it could all be smoke and mirrors as far as we know. There also is supposed to be some tie in with an eBook distributor, but details are forthcoming.