If you are like me, just pining for an eReader that is robust, light, strong, with huge storage, great + economical Wifi connections, and is not linked to Amazon only for books and other media resources – then thank CES 2010 for just hosting a pan full of promising eReader nuggets. In fact, the missing announcement, the Apple iSlate, is now rumoring to be the color eReader that every book nook worth their typography and graphics design styling noses secretly lusts for. But the missing piece hardly does justice to the torrent of eReader goodies that appeared bright and shiny at CES2010.
My gosh even PBS was taken aback to the riches to be found in eReaders at CES2010 as detailed in this excellent report by Jeffery Brown. PBS gets at the large growth in eReader sales, the novel demographics and big uptick in eReader interest. But give Engadget’s Thomas Ricker top marks for the best and quickest story on the eReader wave that hit at CES2010. He not only picked up on the savvy size of devices like the Skiff and the nifty, dual mode Pixel Qi; but also he presciently identified two of the main drivers in the arena.
First, consumers do want color as well as light and mobile. Second, they want independence from one provider – so they want to be able to connect to Skiff, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Blio and others as well as Amazon for the books, entertainment and idea resources. This is important because if Steve Jobs tries to do an exclusive iTunes-only on the iSlate like Bezos has done Amazon-preferentially on Kindle, Steve may not have enough color, multi-touch and charisma to win against the Mobile integration current.
One of the driving forces in gadgets like smartphones, netbooks and eReaders missed by even Picker is their integration benefits. The popularity and disruptive factor of smartphones is that they are electronic integrators – GPS services, game center, news browser, email link as well as voice chatting. eReaders have the power to do the same for ideas. I go into a classroom and pickup my notes by WiFi [see enabling WiFi Direct technology here] from the professor/teachers laptop. Ditto for business meeting or conference presentations. And at that conference/presentation I may be able to see and save on my eReader or Netbook the full HDTV clip [using new WiDi technology from Intel]. I dont have to email a friend in the street – I can Wifi direct from my netbook to her smartphone the picture or report I want to share. In short, mobile devices are becoming the electronic integrators that Laptops also can be – but you have to lug around a keyboard, battery pack and maybe a big screen[but these factors will help to preserve the laptop for a very significant segment of users].
In sum, eReaders and Netbooks are the competitive device insurance policies against Amazon, Apple , Microsoft or any else from trying to pull off an exclusive fast one – use us for your convenient and colorful source of connectivity among each other or to external sources of ideas, news, and entertainment even at a good price – but just us exclusively. This is the “++” suggested in this article’s title.
PostScript 1: Here is how Jeff is making Kindle Amazon preferential. On Kindle’s Wifi services he charges more if you don’t order from Amazon:
Amazon provides wireless connectivity free of charge to you for certain content shopping and downloading services on your Device. You may be charged a fee for wireless connectivity for your use of other wireless services on your Device, such as Web browsing and downloading of personal files, should you elect to use those services. We will maintain a list of current fees for such services in the Kindle Store. Amazon reserves the right to discontinue wireless connectivity at any time or to otherwise change the terms for wireless connectivity at any time, including, but not limited to (a) limiting the number and size of data files that may be transferred using wireless connectivity and (b) changing the amount and terms applicable for wireless connectivity charges.
PostScript 2: Note how many times the name IBM came up in this story.