Sunday, May 10, 2009

News is Not Grey

Are those enlarged eInk devices such as the Kindle DX/3, Plastic Logic and other big tablets really going to save the world of the newspapers?

We don’t think so, nor do we believe that replicating a broadsheet on a slab in greyscale is going to turn the masses on. It reminds us once again of Michael Douglas running up the beach with the earlier mobile that resembled a brick or Fred Flinstone reading the daily news from a stone slab. To some size matters but over and over again the consumer tells us convenience, portability, compactness and style score over clunky. Let’s face it the thieves are going to have a birthday with these as they aren’t exactly things one puts in one pocket and they aren’t cheap! Picture a busy tube, bus or train and everyone reading a grey slab.

We think we have already given too much space to the eink slab reader, however we note that eink obviously feel that they are on a winner bring a grey world to the masses. Wired reports that they have released a new line of its broadsheet prototype kits aimed at attracting newspaper developers. The AM-300 kit offers a 9.7-inch display and allows companies to experiment and build their own prototype readers on the larger format. They did something similar in releasing a kit for ebooks last year which was priced at $3000 and was taken up by companies looking to create ebook reader lookie-likies and we’ve see plenty of them!

The new developer kit has a graphical electronic paper display with pen input and also includes a Linux x86 operating environment, E Ink API software for Broadsheet, sample images, open source software drivers and other applications that support MMC cards, Bluetooth and USB. The 9.7-inch AM300 kit will begin shipping on May 27th, priced at $4,000.

We believe that newspapers like all media needs to navigate the stormy waters of digital change, but it has to first decide what it wants to offer, how that offer can be communicated, paid for and value be perceived by consumers. It is a journey of baby steps and experimentation. News isn’t dying, nor is the demand for it, just the way its communicated, consumed and paid for.

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