Developers and ereader vendors are missing an app opportunity
I read on my GlowLight NOOK much more frequently than I read on my Asus Transformer tablet. I’d say there’s at least a 10:1 differential, so for every hour I read on my tablet I read at least 10 hours on my Glowlight Nook. I’ll bet I’m not alone and people who own both an E Ink device and a tablet probably do much more reading on the former. So why is the apps ecosystem limited to tablets? Why are there no add-on apps for E Ink devices in general?
In a recent TOC newsletter we asked readers “What do you wish your ereader could do?” We received quite a few replies, but one of the more interesting ones came from a person who said they’d like to have apps like Flipboard, Zite and Pulse on their E Ink device. I found that interesting because those are the apps (along with News360) I use almost every day on my tablet. If there were Nook E Ink versions, that 10:1 ratio noted earlier would probably become 50:1 as there would be less reason for me to switch to my tablet for reading.
So why aren’t there apps like this on E Ink devices? One reason is tied to E Ink’s capabilities. Apps like Flipboard, Zite, et al, offer nice graphics and even a bit of animation. E Ink is limited to grayscale and no animation, of course. So why not create those apps without the animation and just show the images in black and white? That leads to reason No. 2: Amazon, B&N and the other E Ink device vendors aren’t encouraging third-party app development. That’s probably because they want those devices to have the highest walled gardens of all, which is a shame and a loss for consumers.
Is it too late for these vendors to reconsider and encourage third-party app development? Maybe. After all, the momentum has already swung toward tablets and away from E Ink readers. Nevertheless, as long as tablets weigh more than E Ink readers, their displays aren’t as easy on the eyes and they don’t offer significantly longer battery life, I’ll remain a two-device reading consumer. I suspect I’m not alone, so I hope an E Ink app ecosystem takes root at some point.
This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog (“Why Are Apps Only on Tablets?“). This version has been lightly edited.
The Readius rollable e-reader will be presented at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, according to the Readius official blog. First announced in July, the Readius is a cell-phone-sized gadget that includes a five-inch rollable E Ink display. Related Stories: New Sony E-Reader Has Touchscreen, No Web Connection iRex's Large E-Reader Aimed at Business Crowd The Pitfalls of Publishing's E-Reader…
My take: Print's future hinges on content, not technology. What do you think?
Esquire will use E Ink technology to declare "the 21st Century Begins Now" on 100,000 flashing copies of its September issue. David Granger, Esquire's editor in chief, discusses the first E Ink-driven magazine cover with New York Times: … on its own, the magazine will run out of juice after 90 days. Mr.Granger knows some will see the cover…
Nice overview of electronic paper display (EPD) technologies at Computerworld: [Fujitsu's] Fabric PC looks like a soft trifolded portfolio. Opened, it reveals a flat keyboard on one panel and a display on the other — a display that wraps under the keyboard. Unfold the keyboard as well and the entire inner surface of the device is an EPD screen…