the NYT reports that there is yet another e-book reader on the horizon (here's newsweek's coverage of it), but this time it's an
e-newspaper reader (even making this distinction reveals the basic flaws in how people think about these devices). reading this short-sighted business logic makes me cringe, developing e-book devices with exactly one vertical in mind is really not the smartest thing to do. it is what made the amazon kindle and the sony e-books fall so short of their potential, what makes the iRex iLiad completely unusable for all practical purposes, and what most likely will also make the new kid on the block, the plastic logic e-newspaper reader, fail.
as long as e-book readers are designed by people with just one application scenario in mind, they will never reach the potential that a truly web-enabled e-book could attain. and this potential is huge and when thinking about this in the right way (not as a vertical), this could truly revolutionize the landscape of information delivery.
ultimately, my take is that this is all about companies not understanding the web. they see the web as just another
distribution channel, it's just a different way of how to sell content. what they are missing is the fact that the web is a enormous interconnected ecosystem of all kinds of stuff, and that the network effect would make it a much more profitable value proposition to play in that arena, instead of just selling books or newspapers (which, in that limited and disconnected world-view, by the way still work pretty good on paper). the good news is that this means the market is still wide open for the first e-book reader company to come along that actually understands the web.