Sharp is preparing an e-bookstore and two e-readers for the Japanese market. The devices include 5.5-inch and 10.8-inch versions, reportedly running Google Android.
Sharp has decided to toss its hat into the burgeoning e-reader ring,
unveiling two devices along with a cloud-based e-bookstore. Although the company
plans to market the hardware and service in Japan, the growing U.S. market for
e-readers could provide an enticing target for expansion in coming months.
Sharp claims it will have 30,000 periodicals and ebooks ready for the
e-bookstore's December launch. The two e-readers will include a 5.5-inch
"mobile" and 10.8-inch "home" version, with high-resolution
screens and WiFi but no 3G connection. The 5.5-inch e-reader will be available
in red and silver, and the 10.8-inch only in black. No pricing has officially
Based on an image included by Sharp in a Sept. 27 press release, the
devices' screens will be in full color. Although that release makes no mention
of an operating system, an
article in The Wall Street Journal
indicates the devices will run Google Android
"Galapagos," the code-name for the e-reader, was apparently chosen
as "a symbol of the -evolution' of services and terminal
devices that constantly bring fresh, new experiences to the user." In the
19th century, Charles
formulated parts of his theory of evolution from observing the Galapagos
islands' unique wildlife.
The Wall Street Journal
suggests some raised eyebrows among Japanese consumers over the name, which can
also be taken as a reference to "Galapagos Syndrome," or the Japanese
self-perception of their nation as increasingly isolated
from the outside
The e-readers will also include a social-networking service for sharing
reading lists and comments on books; a converter that transfers PC data-such as
documents and maps-into the device; a Web browser; and "Automated
Scheduled Delivery Service" for periodicals.
If Sharp's devices try to penetrate the U.S.
market, they will face substantial competition from the likes of Amazon.com's
Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and the Apple iPad, which features an
e-reader application. Those
companies are currently preparing for the big holiday marketing push
Amazon recently kicking off a series of television ads highlighting the
Kindle's relatively low cost.
Analytics firm In-Stat predicts that e-reader shipments will grow from
around 12 million units in 2010 to 35 million in 2014. "Tablet shipments
are taking off, fueled in particular by the Apple iPad introduction." Stephanie
Ethier, an analyst with In-Stat, wrote in a Sept. 14 research note. "Yet,
there will still be a revenue opportunity for e-reader suppliers and OEMs since
tablet PCs and e-readers target different consumers."