Sunday, May 11, 2008

BPN 1095 The unwirelessed iLiad

It was a surprise last Thursday to come home from the lecture in Utrecht and find the announcement of iRex Technologies, that they have now a light edition of the iLiad as a dedicated book edition, including 50 classics. This all for the price of 499 euro. To tell you the truth, I had not expected an emasculated ereader; a price cut on the wireless iLiad was more in line with my thoughts for more than one reason.

I had been wondering about the strategy of iRex Technology. They have started on the top floor of eReaders with a device, including wireless for 650 euro. In the meantime they have gotten competition, at least in the US, from the wireless Kindle, which sells for the tempting price of 399 US dollar (237 euro). You wonder what makes the real difference between the iLiad and the Kindle. It just can not be the materials and the functionalities. I guess that it is the production and the marketing.

Another difference is still the reach of the Kindle. In the US it is sold as a package deal with a telco. It is basically the iPhone strategy and it works in the States. But in a fragmented continent like Europe this policy will not really work. See the iPhone business in Germany. I still believe that in Europe you should team up with a publisher. That is why I think that Penguin should team up with Amazon, bundling in a selection of their 5000 books.

But now iRex has taken the strategy to make a light version of the iLiad. Not a light version with regard to weight, but a light version by taken the wireless out. In this way the new eReader can compete with the Hanlin, Jet, Sony, Cybook and other still to come. This area will be crowded soon by readers destined specifically for books.

But the price iRex put to their light book version of 499 euro is the highest of the eBook readers. All the other readers are available at a price of just above, but mostly under 300 euro. So what is the real competition with a difference of almost 200 euro. Again iRex is again on the highest price floor of the specific ebook readers. There is only one saving grace for iRex in both cases of the wireless eReader and the specific eBook reader: iRex can still go down with its prices, while the other will feel the competition as far as the price is concerned.

But iRex is also learning. Did they offer the iLiad in 2006 with only an electronic version of the user manual, now iRex has bundled in with the light iLiad ebook reader no less than 50 classic books. Of course it is not the latest hot novel; in fact the offer contains 50 books of which the copy right is in the public domain. In other words you can get them for free from the internet; but the light iLiad buyer will not have to download the books himself.

Will the light ebook version of the iLiad stimulate the sales of the wireless iLiad? I do not think so. First of all, your pockets are lighter as you have paid 499 euro for the eunuch version of the iLiad and saved 150 euro on the wireless version. Besides the light version does not contain any stimulus (eg a wireless program on a card) to upgrade the ebook Reader.

My conclusion is that the wireless iLiad will remain the Jaguar under the wireless readers. Kindle is already the Volkswagen in price and sales numbers. But also under the ebook readers is the light version of the iLiad the top in price, competing with many Trabant cars (which used to be a cheap East German family car). The marketing odyssey of the iLiad continues.

Blog Posting Number: 1095

Tags: ebook, ereader, digital paper

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