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Summary:

*Sprint* has the Kindle. *AT&T* has *Sony* and still-to-launch PlasticLogic. Now Verizon (NYSE: VZ) gets the iRex DR800SG — and the wireles…

iRex E-Reader

*Sprint* has the Kindle. *AT&T* has *Sony* and still-to-launch PlasticLogic. Now Verizon (NYSE: VZ) gets the iRex DR800SG — and the wireless U.S. e-reader market gets a bit more crowded. The $399 touchscreen device from iRex Technologies, the spinoff of *Royal Philips Electronics*, will be in selected Best Buy stores by next month, according to the New York Times. Its 3G modem access will be powered by Verizon, which has already said it won’t subsidize the devices to get them in the market.

With its 8.1 inch screen, the iRex fits squarely between the Kindle DX (10″, $489) and the upcoming Sony (NYSE: SNE) Reader Daily Edition (7″, $399). It’s not as expensive as the Kindle DX, but it’s still costly — and it’s not close to the $100-$150 a recent report suggested it will take to move from very niche to mass market.

It also takes awareness, which is partly where Best Buy comes in. The NYT says the electronics chain is adding a new area to stores (after limiting e-reader sales to a few stores and online), and is training “thousands” of employees in how to talk about the iRex, the Sony Reader and the e-reader concept. (Maybe we should set up an e-reader secret shopper challenge to see how it worked.) Kindle isn’t sold in stores but Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) tries to match would-be buyers with owners in their area for hands-on demos.

Barnes & Noble: Borders has had Sony kiosks for years. IRex already has a deal to include the Barnes & Noble eBookstore but it could have been more; Kevin Hamilton, the CEO of iRex in North America, told the NYT Barnes & Noble was offered the chance to have its brand, not the company’s, on the device but no agreement was reached.

  1. This stuff is interesting, but my thesis is that whereas Kindle and iRex seem to be predicated on the construct of the book as less than the current experience (i.e., mostly text), the industry is headed for a full-blown re-boot that takes advantage of interactivity, touch/tilt, social engagement, movies, pictures, animation and sound, a topic that I expound upon in:

    Rebooting the Book (One Apple iPad Tablet at a Time)
    http://bit.ly/zOoEu

    Check it out, if interested.

    Mark

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