You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Plastic Logic’ tag.

Here’s a roundup of happening in the tablet world:

Anyone surprised that Plastic Logic’s Que never got off the ground and has been killed hasn’t been paying attention for the last, oh, 18 months. Plastic Logic has a well-oiled publicity machine that resulted in a lot of terrific press, but no results. And there-in lay a cautionary tale — don’t get out in front of yourself.

But while Que has gotten a lot of press, there are several other e-readers that have bit the dust. IRex folded last month, only to come back as IRX technologies. COOL-er went under, which is too bad because that was a cool litte machine. In the tablet world, the Augen 7, K-Mart’s $150 toy, was much hyped but never shipped, and probably won’t be given it’s troubles with Google.

The dead and the dying are littering the e-reader landscape and that should be no surprise. Expect further fallout as Amazon keeps lowering its device prices and garnering even more market share.

(The views expressed here are mine alone.)

The drop in classified revenue will kill newspapers. The drop in advertising revenue will lead to their doom. The fall in circulation will result in newspapers printing fewer days of the week, and maybe cease operations all together.

These are among the more popular doomsday scenarios, none of which will lead to the demise of newspapers. Classified revenue may be close to bottoming out; newspaper inserts — especially on Sunday — are still the most reliable way to get advertiser messages to customers; and the current circulation numbers don’t portend doom, but instead mean we have the customers that really want out products, and they’re tremendously valuable to our advertisers.

But there is new challenger that could do more damage more quickly than any of the issues above — wireless companies. Their ability to market products and turn out new technology bodes poorly for publishers.

Look at what’s happening in the market. Plastic Logic is partnering with AT&T to distribute its e-reader. Rumors persist that Apple’s tablet will be launched this fall, and be distributed through Verizon. If AT&T and Verizon are in the game, you can bet Sprint and T-Mobile won’t be far behind.

Each will be able to offer complete digital packages for one price — a cell phone; netbook (or laptop) for home use; an e-reader for portable use; a data plan to power all of those devices; and, oh by the way, home internet and cable access, too.

The wireless carriers could also sell a digital advertising package across all of their platforms, reaching customers via several tools multiple times a day. The carriers don’t have to produce any content themselves; the thousands of available free apps will take care of that. Notice I said “content” and not “news.”

Here’s where the conjecture comes in: What if the carriers decide they want to partner with select news organizations for exclusive rights to their content …  the content only appears on their devices for their audience? And what if  the carriers offer affordable data plans and focus on combining their services into one attractive package? Which publishers make it, and which ones get shut out because their content isn’t available due to these exclusive deals?

This could be entirely off base. But the wireless carriers see an opportunity, and they’re embracing it much faster than many publilshers.

I’ve blogged a lot — and will blog more — about the next generation of e-readers and how newspapers are salivating at the prospects of a device that could help change their revenue model and lead them back to a path of profitability.

But if there’s one thing we know about technology, it is that it constantly changes, and that change brings disruption. So as Plastic Logic, Fujitsu, First Paper and IRex get ready to release these large screen (8 1/2 by 11)  and newspaper friendly devices, there’s a nemisis right around the corner that could derail everyone’s plans.

Netbooks are here, and they’re loaded for bear.  Sales jumped in 2008 and slowed in Q1 2009, though I think that slowdown in sales can be linked to the global recession. Netbooks are very light — generally under 3 pounds — and very cheap — under $300, or sometimes much less if tied to a cellular phone contract.

The new e-readers? Right now, they are simply promises. Plastic Logic and First Paper each promise devices with larger screens that will display newspaper and magazine content better than Amazon’s Kindle. But neither have a firm date on when those devices will be available. Plastic Logic, which has signed trial agreements with Detroit newspapers and USAToday,  plans to make an announcement in January 2010. Kindle, seeing the competition, announced it’s coming out with its own larger screen version in Q4 2009.

But here’s the potential problem with the e-readers: Cost. Netbooks can be had for as little as $99. Fujitsu costs $1,000 US; IRex costs almost $900. The early Kindle versions are about $359, and there’s no word on how much the Plastic Logic or First Paper products will cost.

So here’s the challenge: Why would a suddenly cost-conscience public, battered by the worst economy since the 1930s, spend, potentially, more money on an e-reader when they can get the same — or more — with a netbook?

Stay tuned. This is going to get very interesting.