Hanvon's color e-reader will debut on the Asian market in 2011. Along with the upcoming Nook Color, does that mean a wider e-reader market shift toward color?
The market for color e-readers could be on the verge of tipping into
something much larger: Hanvon, purportedly China's leading seller of e-readers,
is prepping to debut a color e-reader during the FPD International 2010 trade
show in Tokyo.
Word of that unveiling comes from The New York
which suggested the Hanvon's 9.68-inch color touch-screen will
be available in China starting early 2011, at a price equivalent to around
$440. The color technology apparently comes courtesy of E Ink, which crafts the
grayscale displays central to e-readers such as Amazon.com's Kindle and Barnes
& Noble's Nook.
"On a list of things that people want in e-readers, color always comes up,"
Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading business division, told
The New York Times Nov. 8
"There's no question that color is extremely logical. But it has to be vibrant
color. We're not willing to give up the true black-and-white reading
Although Hanvon's device seems marketed primarily at the Asian market, it
would represent the second high-profile color e-reader announcement in as many
& Noble introduced a full-color Nook during a New York City event Oct. 26
In addition to the color screen, the new Nook includes features-most notably,
Web surfing-that bring it more in line with a tablet PC.
Analysts saw the Android-based Nook Color as a potential game-changer for
the e-reader market.
"This move puts B&N ahead of both Amazon and Sony-the longtime holders
of the No. 1 and No. 2 slots in the e-reader business," James McQuivey, an
analyst with Forrester, wrote
in an Oct. 26 posting on his corporate blog
. "Not ahead in terms of device
sales. . .but ahead in terms of vision. Because, one day, all e-readers will be
tablets, just as all tablets are already e-readers." He estimated that the new
Nook would sell "a few hundred thousand units" between its Nov. 19 release date
and the end of 2010.
The more color e-readers that enter the market, the more pressure is put on
other competitors to produce competing devices. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has
previously hinted that a color Kindle could be some time off; indeed, the most
recent edition of the company's flagship e-reader offers sharper contrast and a
lighter body, but only a grayscale screen.
"While the device won't unseat Amazon, it does throw down a gauntlet to
Amazon and Sony both," McQuivey wrote, describing the Nook Color. "Both of
those companies could easily develop a tablet device focused on consumer
media-and both have sufficient motivation to provide media beyond books."
That commentary might have focused on the Nook, but it could just as easily
apply to any other color e-readers entering the space-and those devices are
obviously on their way.