Plastic Logic has canceled its Que e-reader, and the company is vowing to refocus its resources on designing a next-generation product. The Que had been positioned as a high-end challenger to Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.
Plastic Logic has canceled
of its Que e-reader, a potential high-end challenger to Amazon's Kindle and
Barnes & Noble's Nook. In its place, the company will apparently focus on
"a second-generation ProReader plastic electronics-based product." The Que had
already experienced rounds of delays, with customer preorders canceled in
The Que originally made its debut at the 2010 Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with Plastic Logic executives touting the
device's ability to download and display documents as ideal for business
travelers and other highly mobile professionals. Unlike the Kindle or Nook,
however, the Que also came with a CEO-caliber price tag: the 4GB Que was slated
for $649, while the 8GB version with WiFi and 3G was $799.
As a result, those Plastic Logic executives spent part of CES
defending that pricing decision. "It's a higher price point because it's a
different demographic: customers who want to read business documents," Steven
Glass, senior director of technical marketing for Plastic Logic, told eWEEK
during a Jan. 7 event. "The rest [of the e-reader manufacturers] aren't doing
that, at least in a way they can annotate."
Indeed, the Que featured the ability to add comments,
highlight text, search through thousands of files, and scribble on documents
with a fingertip or stylus. But e-readers are a rapidly evolving category, and
within months both
Amazon and Barnes & Noble had pushed through a number of e-reader software
that offered comparable functionality. In addition, the price for
both the Kindle and Nook dropped to $189.
By June, the Que had experienced two rollout delays. "We've
been working hard to bring the world's first product based on plastic electronics
technology to market-and have decided that delaying the device a bit longer
will result in [sending] a better product to you,"
read a June 24 email from Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta to a customer
"With that in mind, we need to let you know that since your unit will not ship
on June 24 as planned, our automated ordering system has automatically
cancelled your order."
In retrospect, that delay seemed a preamble to the Que's
ultimate demise, announced Aug. 10.
"We recognize the market has dramatically changed, and with
the product delays we have experienced, it no longer makes sense for us to move
forward with our first-generation electronic reading product," Archuleta wrote in
a statement posted on the Plastic Logic Website
. "This was a hard decision,
but is the best one for our company, our investors and our customers."
Archuleta suggested the company will "refocus, redesign and
retool for our next-generation ProReader product." However, his statement
offered scant clue about what form that product would eventually take-or how it
would tackle a market not only crowded with low-cost e-readers, but also
squeezed by the Apple iPad.