Plastic Logic, whose Que e-reader will be aimed primarily at business travelers and others looking for an ultra-portable way to carry documents, announced through an e-mail to customers that shipments of the Que will be delayed until summer. Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta reportedly cited the need to fine-tune the device and improve the overall experience as the reasons behind the delay. The Que is particularly notable for its price point, higher than that of other e-readers, which the company has defended as an appropriate cost for its desired businessperson demographic.
Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta reportedly sent an
e-mail to customers who had preordered the Que, the company's e-reader, saying
that shipments had been delayed until summer. In the March
11 missive, according
to online reports
, Archuleta blamed the delay on a need to fine-tune the
device and "enhance the overall product experience."
Unlike other e-readers on the market that sell at a sub-$400 price point, including Amazon.com's
Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook, the 4GB Que with WiFi retails for $649,
and the 8GB model with WiFi and 3G for $799. Plastic Logic has repeatedly
emphasized the ability of the Que, which includes a 10.7-inch screen, to
download and display Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents.
a conversation with eWEEK at January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las
, Steven Glass, Plastic Logic's senior director of technical
marketing, voiced the company's rationale for that cost: "It's a higher price
point because it's a different demographic: customers who want to read business
At the time, Glass also pointed to the Que's ability to add
comments, highlight text and scribble on documents with a fingertip as another
competitive differentiator. "The rest [of the e-reader manufacturers] aren't
doing that, at least in a way they can annotate." The Que also features an
ability to sort through thousands of documents rapidly.
The device will utilize AT&T's 3G network, and includes
access to Barnes & Noble's eBookstore, which contains over a million
volumes. In what could be seen as a standard-issue move for e-reader
manufacturers, Plastic Logic has established partnerships with The Wall Street
Journal, Dow Jones and other publishers to port their periodical content onto
While Amazon and Barnes & Noble represent some of the
larger companies currently operating in the e-reader market, and Apple's
upcoming iPad incorporates robust e-book technology, a number of smaller
players have been attempting to seize their own piece of the rapidly expanding
Other companies that debuted e-readers at CES included Skiff, a subsidiary of publishing company
Hearst, which rolled out an e-reader with an 11.5-inch touch screen. The Skiff
Reader's display, based on a flexible sheet of stainless-steel foil, will
reportedly be available in Sprint locations later in 2010, with Sprint
providing 3G connectivity for the device.
The potential for massive profits for Plastic Logic and
these other companies is reportedly high, at least based on the sales numbers
attributed to Amazon and the market's more established players. In a Dec. 1
research note, an analyst with advisory group Collins Stewart estimated that
Amazon earned around $301.4 million off the Kindle in 2009, with that number
expected to grow in coming years. Amazon has traditionally declined to break
out its sales figures, as has Barnes & Noble.
The increasing array of e-readers on the market, has driven
Amazon and other companies to lower their e-readers' prices. Whether Plastic
Logic will decide to do the same thing, when it finally releases the Que,
remains a question.