Tuesday, August 05, 2008

BPN 1180 Telcos seriously look at e-Papers

Der Spiegel, the sister publication of the German newspaper Bild, published a story on Deutsche Telecom being interested in digital newspapers. However the story was rather vague as the spokes person told the reporter that the telecom company did not have a content agreement with a newspaper nor did the spokesperson say anything on the e-reader(s) to be used. The story should be taken serious as Deutsche Telecom is picking up experience from its US sister network Verizon which is working together with Amazon’s e-reader Kindle, of which more than 240.000 have been sold already.

But the announced project does not really be on its way yet or does not want to tell too much about it. But in the fall the telco wants to start a pilot by handing out e-readers to some thousands of clients. The project is called News4Me and it is known that the telco tinkers on producing a personalised electronic newspaper. The site of Deutsche Telecom says: The News4Me project aims to create an individual electronic newspaper. Subscriptions are possible to complete issues or to individual sections from differing newspapers, which will then be transmitted to mobile devices. The contents and the layout adapt constantly to the way that you read. In future, wherever you are, you will benefit from easy access to current news and information which correspond to your personal interests.

So Deutsche Telecom or T-labs still have to agree on cooperations with newspaper companies. What DT wants looks like Google News. This asks for a lot of conversions from the various newspaper formats. Of course it has been demonstrated by Google and can be done for an e-reader.

The e-reader is still subject to speculation. However researchers of T-Labs have spoken about the specifications in June to Innovations Report and talked about an a screen almost as large a newspaper page, flexible and not an LCD screen with backlit facilities. The researchers referred to the product of the Dutch company Polymer Vision, the Readius (see photograph), with a rollable screen. They would also like to equip the e-reader with broadcast facilities, by which I think they mean video and audio.

It is interesting to see Deutsche Telecom going into e-papers as a telecom company and not having the support yet of the German newspaper industry. It is almost unbelievable as the international newspaper research institute IFRA is in Darmstadt and has been conducting an e-paper project for some years. Some US companies now benefit from the project by offering their newspaper to the public through Kindle. Besides IFRA recently performed a focus group test of e-reader with black and white screens provided by irex Technologies and Sony, but also colour screens, provided by Bridgestone.

But all these details aside: DT is the second telecom multinational going into a pilot of e-papers. Earlier this year France Telecom through its Orange Labs started the project Read & Go, the first 3G-connected mobile newspaper kiosk with the newspapers Le Monde, Le Parisien, Les Echos, L’Equipe and Télérama. Orange has specifically developed Wifi/3G coupled connectivity with a dedicated distribution platform, user interface and browsing capability. The Read&Go device has a storage capacity of 1 Gb – more than 200 newspapers – and also contains a e-library of thirty or so books (literature, strip cartoons, children's and practical publications, etc.) provided by Feedbooks, Médiatoon (Dargaud, Dupuis, Lombard et Kana) and Mango editions. The project will have 150 test persons. So far an iLiad has been used in the marketing utterances.

The move of the telecom companies France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom is interesting as the pilots are not just undertaken by newspapers and equipment manufacturers only like the projects of NRC Handelsblad in The Netherlands and Les Echos in France

Blog Posting: 1180

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