Okay, I’m calling this. I don’t know what’s happening with the e-reader market, but I’m 100% sure there are too many participants. Has this ever happened before with emerging tech? Were there fifty different MP3 players before Apple begat the iPod?
Today’s entrant is none other than Creative, known to long-time PC aficionados for their sound technology, and more recently sundry miscellaneous gadgets. Their impending e-reader is called the Mediabook, and unlike the kindle it:
will harness “videos, pictures, text, and services in one device that supports a media-rich experience.”
Which means it won’t be a dedicated e-reader, but some sort of hyrbrid iPhone-ish-netbook-like hand-held computer gizmo. But isn’t this really inevitable? Just as all SUV’s invariably morph into egg-shaped station wagons when gas mileage becomes an issue, all task-specific devices like the Kindle are going to keep drifting back to the hand-held computer model where all-in-one functionality is critical.
The biggest concern I have is that all of these developers are going to blow it. They’re going to go feature crazy and forget that the race to develop a digital book on par with an actual book has not been won — not even close. If that happens, gadget sales go up, e-book sales go flat or down, and everybody forgets (again) that text is still a big deal in the entertainment business. And education business. And newspaper business.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy who runs the local service station is putting together his own e-reader, to be given away with every full tank. And I hear the Girl Scouts are going to be selling one along with their cookies. Can Nintendo be far behind? What about PlaySkool? And where is Boeing on this? If you can build a 7X7, can’t you build an e-reader?
— Mark Barrett