Japanese consumer electronics giant Sharp has entered into both the e-book and Android (s goog) tablet business with the announcement of the Galapagos cloud media service and two devices that act as both a tablets and an e-reader. The Galapagos service will launch initially in Japan in December, with possible expansion in the future. The service is an e-book store that will handle books, magazines and newspapers; these will be delivered via an automatic (and fee-based) push system that sends new editions of periodicals directly to the tablet/e-readers.
Sharp is rolling out two Android tablets compatible with Galapagos, and is promoting them as e-reader devices. The tablets will be available in two unique sizes: a 5.5-inch (1024×600) and a 10.8-inch (1366×800) model that both rely on Wi-Fi for connectivity. Sharp is not providing much detail about the tablets, so it’s not known if they will have full Android features or will be solely focused on the reader functions. If they are open systems, developers will have another outlet (with potential large market) for Android apps.
The Galapagos media service puts Sharp in direct competition with the Sony (s sne) Reader bookstore and the Apple (s aapl) iBookstore in Japan. Amazon (s amzn) is now offering the Kindle in Japan, but does not have much content available in Japanese, so Sharp may have an advantage over the Kindle. There is no information about the number of titles Sharp expects to have in the store at Galapagos launch, but given the competitor’s head start in the e-book business it needs to ramp up quickly. Sharp may be hoping the media ecosystem will give its tablets an advantage over the recently announced Samsung Galaxy Tab, but that remains to be seen. It will be interesting to hear the opinions about this new service from Sharp at our Mobilize conference this week.
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