Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2010: The Year of the E-Reader?

I was an early adopter of the Amazon Kindle 2 platform. Since its eagerly anticipated February 2009 launch date, I have absolutely loved the device. As of this point, I am significantly and definitively invested within, and tied into, the Amazon e-book/reader platform. [thank you DRM, but that is another story altogether...]

Since February, the e-Reader marketplace has been impacted by myriad levels of development and innovation. Some advances and improvements have proven to be just that. For example, the release of "Kindle-for-PC" last month is an example of an excellent supplementary program built off of the platform. But other developments have remained stagnant, or have simply failed. Here, it is easy to cite the Kindle DX as a bust, or for that matter, write off the entire concept of newspapers delivered via e-readers as having been a relative nonstarter.

Yet as the holidays near, the e-reader has been a predominant story in the tech news.

The competing platforms, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Nobles' Nook, have both made the tech headlines over the past few weeks. Amazon has been boasting about tremendous sales and have been touting the continued availability of their device, while the Nook's elusive launch date appears to continue to be recurrently pushed back, as supply levels cannot match pace with demand.

Additionally, there are several other e-readers already on the market, and we have been hearing many stories/rumors about planned future devices (the e-reader is predicted to be a featured gadget at the Consumer Electronics Show, taking place in January of next year).

The e-Reader is poised to potentially become the device of 2010.

All that being said, I have still only observed three Kindles "in the wild," and I am the (unwelcome) recipient of quizzical and curious looks whenever I read in public [and I live just south of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where one could expect a greater level of e-reader market penetration].

General concern remains over the complaints originally lobbied against electronic readers... that they cannot replace real, physical books...that they are not capable of enabling the social, sharing aspects of reading.

Sure, the tech world may recognize the promise of the e-reader as a platform. Reality remains that most people have no clue what an e-reader is, or why they might even want one.

But, maybe the writing is on the wall; the e-reader could rapidly see widespread, universal adoption. The market for the e-reader is at a crossroads, possibly ready to explode. We will find out sooner, rather than later, whether mainstream America is ready for electronic readers and digital media.

[an additional note: if you are looking for an e-reader this holiday season, be sure to check out Wired Magazine's informative e-reader Gift]

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