– New e-book competitor iRex Technologies announced more details on its Kindle rival
to ship at the end of October to Best Buy, followed by other retailers to be
announced in the first quarter next year.
wireless DR800SG at $399, which was unveiled at a news conference here Wednesday,
will offer free worldwide wireless over-the-air e-book downloads – an advantage
over the Amazon Kindle’s U.S.-only service. The iRex will use Verizon service
in the U.S.,
and its Qualcomm 3G Gobi modem will permit service overseas.
As first announced in August, the iRex e-reader sports an
8.1-inch screen and works with the Barnes & Noble e-bookstore with more
than 750,000 titles, as well as other open Internet e-booksites.
The unit’s touchscreen works only with a stylus at present,
but the company plans a full touchscreen model in 2010 followed by a model with
a full color screen in early 2011.
iRex, a Netherlands-based spinoff of Royal Philips, has
produced e-readers for the European market although the new DR800SG marks its
entry into the U.S. consumer market. The company claims it offers several
advantages over the Kindle, including its ability to work with many
e-bookstores, its ability to side-load documents from a PC, its worldwide service
and its sales through brick-and-mortar bookstores (the Kindle is sold only
iRex will be launched at Best Buy this fall, and will be
part of a new e-reader segment in Best Buy stores that, as of two weeks ago,
includes two Sony e-readers and will soon include the new iRex, said Kevin
Hamilton, North American CEO of iRex.
Sony models were previously sold only through Best Buy
online, said reports. Hamilton
expects that one or two additional e-reader devices will be added to Best Buy’s
selection. A representative for Best Buy
was expected to attend the press event, but was unable to do so due to
storewide training at the retailer, said iRex.
William Lynch, president of Barnes & Noble e-bookstore,
BN.com, said the 777-store chain is not currently planning to carry the iRex
e-reader but it did not rule out the possibility in the future. Verizon open development VP Tony Lewis said
it is not impossible that Verizon would subsidize an iRex e-reader in the
future, stating, “It’s absolutely on the table,” following the presentation.
In the future, through a software upgrade, the DR800SG will
allow note taking on the device and iRex expects to offer a software developer
kit to allow apps for the device including industrial apps.
Hamilton noted the e-reader
market is currently at “a crossroads” where consumers are ready to buy the
devices. An estimated 1 million
e-readers sold last year, and the market is expected to grow to 40 million
devices worldwide by 2012, according to U.K.-based firms AFAICS.
By way of comparison among other e-readers offering free
wireless e-book downloads, the top-end Kindle DX has a 9.7-inch screen at $489 and
the Sony Digital Reader, due before Christmas, has a 7-inch screen at $399.