Skiff is the result of the efforts put in by Hearst and it was previewed at this year’s CES. Skiff is an eBook reader like no other. It uses LG’s Micro Foil display technology that allows the device to be the largest and yet the thinnest eBook reader in existence. It is so thin that there’s a press photo of ir being bent and it look just like a piece of plastic being bent. But make no mistake about its features because it is pretty well packed and some people are saying that is looks better than even the Kindle DX.
It comes with both WiFi and 3G, the latter of which is brought to you by Sprint. The device is optimized for large format print publications like newspaper and magazines. It will have an undisclosed number of tie ups with various content providers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, as seen in the image on the right. The reader is supposed to enable the distribution and viewing of print media content in rich visual styles including rich layouts and detailed letter faces along with dynamic updates to the device itself. They are probably referring to the availability of 3G on the device and pushing content over the air. It remains to be seen whether the 3G connection is baked into the price of the product like the International Kindle.
The Skiff eBook reader will integrate with the Skiff e-reader service, which is the equivalent of the Whispernet on the Kindle. But instead of mainly books, think mostly periodicals that you have to subscribe to. The people behind the Skiff are hopeful that this device will help the industry turn around and make some money from subscriptions which are flagging. And the Skiff’s gorgeous and sleek looks are going to come in real handy in those efforts.
Skiff, owned by Hearst Corporation, specializes in delivering digital content like newspapers and magazines. Come 2010, they are going to launch a new service that will rival with Amazon and the Kindle in some ways.
Skiff intends to start delivering digital content directly to consumers who want this content. The aim is to distribute it to all available channels and that includes dedicated readers, smartphones and tablets. This platform seeks to do exactly what other platforms do for various products.
Skiff will bring publishers, advertisers and consumers together on one forum. The idea is to deliver content to the users and help publishers generate revenue through advertising like they do now. The main focus, as mentioned earlier, is on newspapers and magazines. These publications already generate revenue this way, so it won’t be anything new for them.
They are also planning to sell books through this platform. The question now is whether they can survive in a market that is currently growing extremely fast. To help things along, they are planning to launch a dedicated ebook reader that will be using the Marvell chipset and Sprint’s 3G EV-DO Rev.A network for wireless connectivity to the store. This dedicated reader is supposedly coming in 2010, which means it should already be in the labs getting prototyped.
There are multiple ebook readers that use the Marvell chipset at the moment and adding wireless support to one will not be a big deal. Spring Design’s Alex, Entourage’s eDGe and Plastic Logic’s Que use this chipset. Skiff may be looking at re-branding one of these readers for their purpose. My guess would be Spring Design’s Alex because it looks like they could use a partner.
If this service becomes a hit with publishers of periodicals and newspapers, it will become a leader in that niche and the Kindle will not be all that affected. But if it starts carrying a massive number of books, both new and old, then Amazon might have something worry about on their hands.