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Summary:

Plastic Logic has been talking about its Que e-Reader for almost two years, but no more. The company has officially killed the Que, even though it has never shipped a single unit. The Que was supposed to be the Cadillac of readers, aimed at business users.

Plastic-Logic-QUE-Ebook-Reader

Plastic Logic has been talking about the launch of its Que e-Reader for almost two years, but no more. The company has officially killed the Que without shipping a single unit. The Que was supposed to be the Cadillac of e-book readers, with an E Ink screen larger than most readers and a focus on business users. Unfortunately, a $649 reader has no way to compete with readers focused at consumers, such as the $139 Kindle.

The Plastic Logic situation demonstrates what can happen when a new product segment grows quickly. What seemed to be a solid entry to the nascent e-reader market was obsolete before it could ship. The company believed a high-end product like the Que would be well-received, and seeing competing products rapidly dropping in price no doubt contributed to several shipping delays.

The final straw in the Que’s back was the successful launch of the iPad with its iBooks app. The iPad is a full mobile computer with e-book reading capability, yet is significantly cheaper than the Que, which is just a reader. Plastic Logic realized it could never compete in functionality, and probably not even price.

Plastic Logic is planning a “2nd generation” reader device, although without actually shipping the original Que the description isn’t quite accurate. In the press release, company CEO Richard Archuleta lays out the plan for the new ProReader:

“We plan to take the necessary time needed to re-enter the market as we refocus, redesign and retool for our next generation ProReader product. We continue to perfect our core plastic electronic technology and manufacturing processes that are central to our product’s unique value proposition.”

It’s hard to re-enter a market you haven’t really been in, and it remains to be seen how patient Plastic Logic’s investors will be while bringing the ProReader to this market that is highly consumer oriented. The company is not divulging particulars about the new device, so we’ll have to wait and see what chance it might have.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Irrational Exuberance Over E-Books?

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  1. This is very disappointing news. I have followed the Que Reader because it is exactly the ereader I need (though at a price point set way too high). I bought a Sony Reader as soon as it was on the market with hopes of reading the many academic articles that are distributed in PDF format in an effort to go green and lighten the weight of my briefcase. The problem is that the screens on most (all?) ereaders are too small for such documents. The advantage of the Que was its large screen, ability to read multiple business document formats (and yes, their proposed partnerships with news outlets for newspapers that actually look like newspapers on the reader). I hope Plastic Logic simply strips the Que of its unnecessary components (like email and MS Exchange support) and put the thing on the market. There is a market for such a device, but $650 was never a good price. Bummed.

  2. I had credit card nhand waiting for this one, until I read the price. I really want a big screen ereader that reads PDFs and MS office documents in their native format. I just want to drag and drop documents to the device and not have to wrry about some conversion process.

    Oh well

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