Caution! Rumor and speculation ahead! Yup, this is just my inquiring mind at work here, but I think we’ll see a competitor to Amazon’s Kindle from Barnes & Noble within the next three months. The groundwork is there, but not everything is in order just yet. Here’s my thought process:
- Barnes & Noble recently purchased Fictionwise. The nearly 9-year-old company sells e-book content in multiple formats and owns the eReader platform that’s used to read content on computers and handhelds.
- Foxit’s $259 eSlick device uses e-Ink, similar to Amazon’s Kindle, but doesn’t support content from the Amazon store. Previous rumors, however, indicate that Foxit will be adding support for the eReader format. That development recently appeared again over at MobileRead: The eSlick forums indicate that eReader support is coming in the next firmware upgrade, which is due out in June.
Obviously, this is all predicated on if and when Foxit adds eReader support to their device. If they do, this scenario makes sense. Why should Barnes & Noble design, build and support a brand new e-book device for their content when they can leverage Foxit’s device and the recent acquisition of Fictionwise? This gives them both an existing device as well as a digital content storefront.
About the only thing I see missing here is the ease of content delivery that Amazon’s Kindle provides. The Foxit eSlick requires you to transfer content to it from a PC or Mac via a USB cable. The alternative is to load content to an SD memory card and insert it into the eSlick. I have to wonder if Foxit will tread where Amazon didn’t and add Wi-Fi capability to the eSlick. That connectivity combined with a integrated storefront would certainly make the device more appealing. Probably not as appealing as a Kindle to some, but possibly enough for Barnes & Noble to profit from their $15.7 million investment in Fictionwise.