Ereading Update: More tablets and Google's ebook acquisition

Infibeam Pi2, Notion Ink Adam, and a brief look at Google's acquisition of eBook Technologies

What’s clear in the aftermath of CES and with the final numbers from the holiday shopping season, is that the Apple iPad has established a commanding lead in the exploding tablet market. With 7.3 million iPads sold in Q4 2010, the device actually produced more gross revenue for Apple than the Macintosh. So while there are plenty of Android tablets reaching the market, few have been able to gain any traction. IDC recently predicted a tripling in demand for tablets and expects 44.6 million tablets to be sold in 2011.

Since all of the Android tablets we’ve seen thus far are so similar in appearance, the sleek design and effective marketing of Apple — and the rumored iPad 2 — may win out with confused tablets shoppers. However, I still believe hardware is not the end game here: software will ultimately motivate future tablet buyers, and that represents a weakness in an iPad total domination strategy.

Switching gears, in this edition of Ereading Update I take a brief look at two new tablets and look at Google’s new ebook acquisition.

Infibeam Pi2

114215_pi2.jpgInfibeam announced plans to offer an upgraded version of their Pi ebook reader. While the original Pi was a dedicated ebook reader, the new Pi2 will also provide Internet browsing , gaming, a touchscreen, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Aimed at the Indian market, the Pi2 supports 15 Indian languages, including Sanskrit and Hindi. The device is already available for pre-order for approximately $264.

Notion Ink Adam

adam21.jpgThe Notion Ink Adam has been a long time coming, but the wait is now over for everyone who participated in the sold-out pre-order. While the final design was announced last October, the Adam has finally cleared its FCC and CE hurdles and is ready to ship. With a 10-inch touchscreen, WLAN 802.11 b/g/n, and an estimated 15 hours of battery life, I’m sure early customers are anxious to start ereading on their tablets. And with an NVIDIA Tegra 250 video chip and a 3-axis accelerometer, reading isn’t the only thing customers can do with these devices.

Google kicks off 2011 with eBook Technologies buy

Late last year, Google announced the availability of the eBookStore and I think, like me, most people thought Google was finished with their ebook strategy. Turns out, we were premature in our conclusion. Google recently announced their purchase of eBook Technologies. While much of terms of the deal were not disclosed, a Google spokeswoman said, “Together, we hope to deliver richer reading experiences on tablets, electronic readers and other portable devices.” eBook Technologies, which offers ebook readers and an ereading platform, added, “Working together with Google will further our commitment to providing a first-class reading experience.” Speculation from Mashable suggested that the acquisition is most likely about patents, personnel and technology, rather than hardware or software.

Other news

01-18-11palmtabscm.jpgEreading device news is hard to come by following CES’ smorgasbord of announcements, but a few additional developments did catch my attention:

  • HP has scheduled Feb. 9th for the official coming out party for the WebOS tablet, but leaked images of the company’s yet-to-be-unveiled tablet(s) appeared online this week. Rumors associated with the images say the 9-inch model will be called “Topaz” while a 7-inch tablet is code-named “Opal.” As I alluded above, many in the tablet sector are more interested in the software package the HP tablets will deliver and whether they will be able to differentiate themselves from the sea of look-alike, feel-alike Android tablets.
  • Aldiko Book Reader, one of the most popular Android ereading applications, has announced the availability of version 2.0. The new version of Aldiko includes support for EPUB and PDF formats, as well as Adobe DRM. In addition, the application will offer access to a new ebook marketplace that collects offerings from different booksellers, and it will incorporate a new section that allows you to add your own ebook catalogs.