Thursday, May 11, 2006

The text iPOD

It was a disappointment last month when the message OPENING WEB SHOP DELAYED! appeared on the site of iRex Technologies, the manufacturer of the digital paper reader iLiad for newspapers and books. Problems with the implementation of the Web Shop caused some unforeseen technical problems the opening has been postponed from April to May 2006.David Rothman of Teleread blog got a message from Angel Ancin at iRex Technologies, saying: We are delayed. The new date is expected throughout May. Main reason for delay is e-commerce problems (technical delays in the webshop itself) and inclusion of additional software goodies to be announced. (Unfortunately, I can not disclose yet) Most likely around May 10th, we will (finally) start actively using our website for communication.
We will confirm the list of countries and launch dates soon in that environment.
Please check regularly from the first week of May onwards.
Yesterday the site still carried the message, that the opening of the webshop was still delayed.

I am pretty sure that the excitement will be great. Many of the Dutch newspaper people (Wegener, PCM, Telegraaf and NDC) have been looking out for the iLiad and in some quarters the reader is already in use. The Belgian newspaper De Tijd has 200 readers to experiment with their newspaper. This experiment got even more glance, when the newspaper announced to have an electronic edition on Monday only. So the owners of an Iliad can have a truly electronic experience once a week. It is interesting to see that around the world the iLiad will be experimented with. The newspaper organisation IFRA will use the iLiad worldwide in one of its projects. Recently the Italian newspaper La Repubblica announced the use of the iLiad.

It is a good sign that there is excitement among the newspaper people. In this way iLiad will get far reaching publicity. This is a good thing, as every medium needs a promoter. Radio was a media promoter for the discman in the eighties. And e-book had never a real media promoter. There is of course also a danger to all this attention. If the iLiad fails it will be written to death by the same journalists. At the launch of Philips CD-I there was some excitement, which soon turned into a negative atmosphere; eventually CD-I died a silent death.

The iLiad has another advantage. It does not only depend on newspapers, but can also handle e-books. So there is a multi-functionality present. On trip your luggage can become lighter; you probably are going to replace the weight of the Da Vinci Code book with something else. But the argument that you have more than one book with you at almost no weight is also a good argument.

A functionality which has not been stressed much yet is that you can write on the electronic paper. With the stylus annotations can be made to an article in the paper or the book. These can be stored. I am wondering how many people are going to try to use it for taking notes in lectures and presentations. You go back to the office and can download them onto your PC to work out you scribbles or just to forget.

Will the Iliad be a success? I am personally convinced that we are closer to the tipping point for digital paper/e-books than ever. We are moving from difficult to read screens to a near paper quality of electronic paper. We have moved from the offline e-Book of Sony in 1991 to the online downloadable e-book in 1997. The fact that everyone is downloading music and videos through iPods should make it easier for the iLiad and other readers to come (Sony, new Amazone device, Philips rollable paper). Introducing the digital paper reader as the text iPod will position the iLiad easier in the market.

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Blog posting number 375

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