Friday, July 09, 2010

eInk Just Lost its Cool, While eBook Issues Just Got Hotter

Cooler reader looks to be another casualty of the squeeze that is inevitable in the ‘lookie likie’ eink reader market. They follow iRex in what may be a growing queue of dead technology failures. The one consistent thing we have said is that this technology made little sense and had a very limited life and now the writing may be clearly on the wall.We doubt we will see eink readers as we know them today in 2012.

The cooler reader entered the market in a full colour with a spectrum of cases, but forgot to make the screen colour too. They also misjudged their launch with a stand and presentation more geared to a car show than a book show and their one trick pony was just a colour case. According to various sources they are no more.

Cooler will not be the last and there will be a lot more casualties before some sense prevails and we haven’t yet seen the inevitable price drop to minus $100 which will sort out many that are merely hanging around on death row today. As we said earlier this week the ones with strong content revenues and offer are the only ones with a survival chance today.

The Amazon Kindle however continues to push forward and now has a fancy graphite case. Surprisingly they have just discovered that a dark contrast makes a ‘white’ screen look like paper! Hello did they not realise this when Adobe created Digital Editions some four years ago. A graphite case and better eink resolution isn’t going to save what is basically inferior technology. You don’t see people going out to buy black and white TVs today so why expect them to buy black and white readers? The only stay of execution will be a drop to $99 a unit.

However the demise of black and white eInk has another interesting twist as it starts to potentially fracture Adobe’s DRM platform ACS4 which today was more or less the universal DRM across the eink devices. It also starts to highlight the differences between the adoption rules being applied to epub standards and formats in general.
There are a number of interesting issues now emerging on epub, hard DRM, soft DRM (watermarking) and readers. It will be interesting to watch as these unfold and what is certain is that there will not be one universal solution to these issues for some time yet.

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