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Rob Beschizza at 8:09 am Wed, Jul 4, 2012
Well, to be fair, most of the ereaders I see in the wild are actually tablets. The Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet, etc. I’ve been through two eInk readers, the Sony PRS505 and the Nook STR, but I just got an Android phone, an HTC One X, and I haven’t touched the eInk display since. I didn’t think that would happen but the screen on the One X is ridiculously good, and it’s pocketable so I always have it with me.
So while people do use devices to read books, I think dedicated readers are a transitory thing. eInk displays are fantastic but they’re already being very nearly equalled, and they have drawbacks in terms of being poor at doing anything except for reading monochrome documents. If people already carry one device that does a ton of other stuff AND is pretty good at reading books, they probably will just use that.
Can you use your backlit devices outside in the daylight? I have yet to find one – even with “protectors” – that is at all comparable to an eInk display. (It feels perverse to have to look for a shadowy spot to find a file on my phone.)
Ereaders provide a superior reading experience over tablets and smartphones IMO but you make a very good point.
In this day and age most people would take convenience and cost saving over better plus not many people want to carry two gadgets.
E-readers may very well be better than smartphones and tablets as reading platforms but I think dedicated e-readers are filling a niche that will only grow smaller. It’s a nice market to cash in on while it lasts though.
I personally think something like Mirasol displays have a better chance of succeeding. They can show colour and even video, have an even better battery life than e-readers and with a nice touchscreen you can write notes in them too.
They don’t cost much to produce either. The downside is that the display isn’t nearly as good as modern tablets and the devices aren’t as powerful as tablets. However I think as far as note taking goes they might be useful for college students.
Given the current CEO comments, I’d have thought someone at RIM would have said that.
I agree with the first commenter – I think a book reader as a single-purpose device won’t last long unless there’s a revolution in how e-ink works.
I have a smartphone, a table, and an e-ink reader. For actually reading books, e-ink is by far superior.
Though I echo Linus’s request for front-lit e-ink readers.
I don’t know, for bigger books that table might come in handy.
Have you seen 15-year-old tablet technology? He’s right, it probably wouldn’t have caught on.
Was that an article about Microsoft, or the Beatles? Because at least half the copy is a history lesson about the Beatles.
To be fair, most of us were still on dial up in 1998 and WiFi was not ubiquitous; USB had only recently been invented. Internet access and USB sync makes perusing books and news on my Kindle pretty pain free. Also, the linked-to article simply refers to e-readers and says nothing about e-ink, which I think was still in its infancy at the time, so the device might have used something else less desirable. Considering that modern e-readers have a lot to do with hardware, it’s perhaps not so crazy that a software company (particularly at the time) passed up on making the devices.
Technology companies don’t live in the present, they look to the future, that’s why their leading products can often be described as revolutionary, or at least innovative if you’d rather avoid the marketing speak.
Otherwise we’d still be debating about how effective a wheel would be considering we can only make it out of stone.
Meh. He also said 256K would be more than enough ram for any application, ever. He’s not the only one. Steve Jobs, as recently as 10-11 years ago, said convergence would never happen, that people didn’t want to watch tv or listen to music on their computers, or use internet or applications on their tv sets or stereos, that the entire idea was preposterous, and therefore developing convergent products and applications was a fool’s errand and not worth pursuing (not his exact words.) We all know what happened next.
You mean 640K, and it’s apocryphal anyway.
yes, it was 640k, thanks for the correction. as far as its being apocryphal, that’s only according to Bill, who would understandably deny it, seeing as how it’s a pretty dumb and embarrassing thing to have allegedly said. he’s lucky that there wasn’t a reporter to quote him at the 1981 Seattle trade show where he supposedly said it, since back then only nerds cared about computers, and the internet didn’t exist yet to immortalize it. however, despite his denial, I still don’t doubt it’s possible he did, considering he later said “we will never make a 32 bit operating system.”
I think admitting to have been wrong is part of what make you successful. Learning from mistakes. So yeah Steve Jobs might have said that, but obviously he changed his mind.
uh, yeah. pretty sure that was my point about quotes like these. let me check.
yup. that was my point.
And Bullmer has been quoted as saying that the iPhone would never catch on.
They also credit their revelation that hardware and software should be unified (during the keynote of the surface) to Microsofts production of mice, and keyboards… Right, that’s what it was that inspired you, certainly nothing else. Nope.
If it is, then MS has about 10 years of tablets that require an expansion card ahead of them
Bill Gates needs to watch more Star Trek. I wanted one of those Star Trek orange e-readers so bad! DS9 had the prettiest ones, but even TNG had ones to salivate over.
And this is why he died penniless. I love it when bloggers pick apart the greatest business men that ever lived.
Sorry, I just can’t stop snarking at Crassus!
Apparently, Bill Gates was canonized while we weren’t paying attention.
Where did you see a claim that he’s a saint? Seems like snarky strawmanning.
He *is* a damn fine role model for other socially-conscious CEOs to follow, but that just means he’s a nice guy: not that he’s divinely inspired.
I’d say that 15 years ago, deciding not to sink money into e-readers wasn’t inspired: it was just clearly the right choice for the time. It would have been a fool’s errand on the hardware of the time.
They never would have caught on.
To be honest, he wasn’t entirely wrong. Plain, bog-standard e-readers didn’t catch on until the Kindle. It’s the apps on phones & tablets that have made e-books popular, and the Kindle Fire, which is more tablet than e-reader.
And Amazon managed it because they have so much leverage in the publishing industry that they could drag them into the 21st century. A pure technology company would have had no chance.
What a silly gotcha kind of post. Touchscreen technology in 1998 was terrible or very very expensive and could not have replaced typing the way it (sort of) has now (I still don’t know anyone who prefers it) and ereaders are already on the way out. Sales this year will not even be a third of what they were last year.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with touchscreens. People have been saying e-readers are dying since before the Kindle was even announced. Amazon claims to sell a million Kindles a week.
Yes nothing at all to do with touchscreens! Except for the part where one of Gate’s objection is that “ he thought the touchscreen device would never be able to compete with keyboards.” Nothing at all. Except for that.
As for kindle sales I have not seen them claim that since they generally don’t release exacting sales figures but I’m sure that that was the case but that was then (pre Fire), this is now.”Amazon.com has slowed down its demand for Kindle eReader e-ink screens to near zero since December 2011, the month after the Kindle fire was introduced…..e-ink screens Amazon.com held on November 2011 were enough for it to satisfy Kindle e-reader demand for the next 4 months..” http://seekingalpha.com/article/557151-kindle-sales-plunge-made-amazon-com-s-gross-margin-look-betterOverall the market went from 9 M in one quarter to 2M last quarter. Pretty big drop. They will be around but tablets are really what people will mostly be e-reading on, not ereaders.
The kindle was and is a massive success, and pretending that it isn’t because we’ve hit “peak e-reader” a decade after microsoft failed to move on an opportunity is not the best argument I’ve ever heard.
It’s an argument that Microsoft would be foolish to release an e-reader product *now*.
Your thing about Microsoft’s rejection on touchscreens misunderstands the point, which is that touchscreens are not what made e-readers useful or successful.
Moreover, the reason given–”touchscreens would never be able to compete with keyboards”– just happens to be thoroughly, historically, commercially wrong in the arena where touch *is* relevant: tablet computers.
So, you have rebutted my claim that Microsoft was wrong about e-readers by pointing out that they were in fact wrong about everything. I’d say congratulations were in order!
Gates was proved right for 12 of the 15 intervening years, which is an eternity in tech. One could just as well argue that the product shown to Gates would have been Microsoft’s Newton and he was wise to scupper it.
Wow awfully weak response that doesn’t even take into account the link showing how deeply kindle sales have fallen which is pretty convenient on your part. Anyway the ereader he was shown relied on a touchscreen which one reason why he didn’t like it. From your reading it had nothing “whatsoever” to do with touchscreens which is in point of fact wrong but again a convenient reading on your part.
The reason though that it is a silly “isn’t gates dumb!!” is because it is obvious that a ereader would never have been a success without someone like Amazon to tie content together with it which is proven by the fact that even though they have been around far longer than the kindle no model was even remotely a success despite being pushed by massive companies like Sony. I doubt very much the book industry was ready to do that in 1998 even with MS’s girth.
Also to say that MS was wrong about everything flies in the face of the their obvious success for the vast majority of its existence. I mean, so the kindle was a success but MS which has more profited orders of magnitude more (and continues to do so) than amazon ever will is not? Uh, sure. Gates is dumb!! Well played.
“No model was even remotely a success despite being pushed by massive companies like Sony”
Sony ‘s sold at least a million readers, according to its reports — and that was a product launched only a few years after Microsoft buried its own. It sold well for a pioneering product, and failed to ride the wave when it came largely because Sony is weak at software and services–the fields where Microsoft and Amazon excel.
“ to say that MS was wrong about everything flies in the face of the their obvious success”
Selling tablets and e-readers? Microsoft has had no success whatsoever selling these things — or any kind of gadget at all, other than the Xbox. The only things Microsoft makes a significant profit from are software and services, i.e. Windows and Office.
There is no point at all talking to people like you, I don’t really know why I’m doing it.
I, for one, am really impressed that you’ve uncovered the Bill Gates fanboi level. I’ve always assumed that it was Steve Jobs fanbois all the way down.
It would be funny but that dude still has billions more then most of us.
Isn’t it shortly after Newton got Steved?
Isn’t this Msoft’s business model? Wait till good ideas emerge, copy, repeat. Hell, it’s worked for them.
I so guessed Apple…
Considering how long we suffered under resistive touchscreens, he was probably 100% correct in saying that touchscreens would not compete with a keyboard. And an ereader in 1998 would have been a half-inch thick with 64 megs of flash memory, using NiMH batteries that lasted a few hours. And it would have been beige.