Sunday, July 08, 2007

Happy first anniversary for my iLiad

It is a year ago that I bought and received my iLiad. And in the meantime it has been an exciting time due to clear digital paper, but also a disappointing time given my spoiled unwrapping party, the rudimentary software and the cracking-up of the display. But the display has been repaired and working perfectly again; for its protection I have bought a posh cover.

So I was surprised to see a full page devoted to the iLiad in last Friday’s edition of the Dutch financial daily newspaper FD . In its weekly supplement FD Personal (which is not updated electronically) a whole page was devoted to the digital paper device; it did not just get a short description in the gadget section FunBytes. It was a real first anniversary piece, although I suppose that the author Matthijs Dierckx will have hardly realised this.

Under the heading Digital reading pleasure, the article starts out with the lead that digital paper was a promise for years, but that it now really exists. The iLiad reads as comfortable as a real book and has its advantages. The article starts out with a hosanna on the device. It also shows a trace of nationalism mentioning that Philips was at the roots of this invention; no mention of the fact that e-Ink developed the technology and Philips made it operational. There is also a trace of historical understanding in the quote the author copies from the iLiad manufacturer iRex Technologies: “the iLiad is the next step in the history of paper, which started more than 5000 years ago in Egypt”. Wow, what a quote!

The author experimented with the device and read the 700 pages bestseller Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy about the Cold War. The first part the author read in print; the second part he read on the iLiad. And the iLiad wins, according to the author, mainly on the score of weight. He points to the advantages of installing a dictionary for immediate consultation and about the annotation facility. Also the fact that the software is updateable and the wifi connection are seen as real advantages.

Then follows the famous BUT. Turning the page takes long and there is a lack of content. Also two arguments are used why selling the device is difficult: the price and the distribution (seeing is believing). Yet the author believes that in the future he will not pick up the newspaper any longer from his doormat, but will receive the edition wirelessly at the breakfast table. Of course it is a nice future that you wish to a one year old.

The author also notices that the iLiad has gotten into the famous digital media situation of chicken and eggs. No content, no sales of the iLiad. The article mentions that some thousands of units have been sold worldwide.

After more than twenty years in digital media I do not believe in such paradigm. If there is a question of chicken and eggs, the marketing has not been properly researched and executed. And I do not believe that this situation exists with the iLiad. There are now more than half a million electronic books available. There are no daily commercial newspapers of fame available, except for the French Les Echos. And I still do not understand why no deal has been made with a free newspaper chain like Metro. The software is there; so what are we waiting for. Waiting for the newspapers of fame to lend their name to the content for the device in whatever country is going to be a long wait as these newspapers are afraid to offer their name to such an experiment.

But so far the iLiad has survived the first year. Happy Anniversary

Blog Posting Number: 807

Tags: electronic book, digital paper, , ,

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