An upcoming e-reader from Plastic Logic, aimed at the small and midsize business and enterprise markets, will utilize AT&T's 3G network to wirelessly download material onto the mobile device. The July 22 announcement followed on the heels of news that Barnes & Noble would manage Plastic Logic's electronic bookstore.
In adopting wireless connectivity, the Plastic Logic Reader mirrors a similar feature of Amazon.com's Kindle e-readers allowing users to download content such as books and periodicals from virtually anywhere. Amazon.com's latest e-reader, the large-screen Kindle DX, became a bestseller upon its release in June.
Instead of challenging Amazon.com head-on in the consumer space, however, Plastic Logic is positioning its device as an e-reader for "mobile business professionals" who need a more portable way to carry multiple documents. The Barnes & Noble eBookstore includes 700,000 titles and 500,000 free public-domain books from Google; in addition, users of the e-reader will be able to download documents in a variety of formats, including PDF, Word and PowerPoint.
Terms of the deal with AT&T were not disclosed. The Plastic Logic Reader is scheduled to roll out to consumers in early 2010, although the company has declined to disclose a price for the device.
Richard Archuleta, CEO of Plastic Logic, said in a July 22 statement that the alliance with AT&T is "a pillar in our strategy to provide mobile business professionals with a device that delivers a great reading experience."
According to Plastic Logic, its e-reader will feature a touch-screen with dimensions that, at 8.5 by 11 inches, are larger than those of Amazon.com's Kindle DX. The Kindle DX, which retails for $489, includes a 9.7-inch grayscale screen, with navigation via a five-point controller.
The market for e-readers is potentially an extremely lucrative one. Analysts have said they expect the Kindle to earn Amazon.com billions in coming years, with Doug Anmuth of Barclays Capital estimating the device's earnings at $1.2 billion in sales in 2010 and $3.7 billion in 2012.
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, who has repeatedly declined to name exact sales figures, admitted that Kindle-related sales brought in 35 percent of his company's book-related revenue. The Kindle DX's larger screen is intended to capitalize on the newspaper and textbook market.
Recognizing the potential profits, a number of other companies have begun moving into the e-reader space, including Google, which announced in June that it was planning to begin selling e-books through its sites by the end of 2009. Google also offers its e-books through Sony's line of e-reader devices.
In order to eat into these companies' lead in the market, Plastic Logic seems to be taking a number of steps to rapidly expand its e-book ecosystem upon the Reader's release. Key among these steps is the plan to make the Plastic Logic Reader an open platform, offering publishers and content aggregators a streamlined channel through which to distribute content.
In a move that mimics Amazon.com's deals with textbook and newspaper publishers, Plastic Logic has announced partnerships with the Financial Times, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, USA Today and content aggregators such as Ingram Digital to distribute their content through the Plastic Logic Reader.