April 16, 2014

Pouring Water on the B&N eReader Rumor?

IREX_DR800_03All the excitement around today’s news of a Barnes & Noble eReader running Android may end up being for naught.

According to IREX Technologies, their new DR800SG series eReader is going to be the device that Barnes & Noble uses for their Kindle-killer.  This soon-to-be released unit packs an 8.1-inch, touch-screen and multi-mode 3G capabilities powered by Verizon Wireless. 

The Barnes & Noble eBook strategy is very much aligned with IREX’s approach to the market. IREX’s open platform, powered by Barnes & Noble’s comprehensive eBookstore, is an appealing proposition for people who love to read. Barnes & Noble is the world’s largest bookseller, so we understand how to create a great shopping experience for people looking for simple and convenient access to their favorite subjects, authors and material. – William J. Lynch, president of BN.com

Unfortunately, the open platform used for the device doesn’t appear to be Android.  As pointed out by Jaap A. Haitsma, the eReader uses GNOME as the OS environment.

You can write programs for these devices by installing the SDK. I’ve tried it a while ago and it works pretty nicely. I only find it a pity that IREX doesn’t advertise this at all at their main website.

We did some digging around the IREX site for Android only to come up completely empty-handed.  This is not to say definitively that this is the same device the WSJ is talking about.  In fact, that’s where it gets muddy.  The Journal says that the screen size is 6 inches and that the carrier will be AT&T.  Awfully conflicting stuff if it’s the same product.

IREX_DR800_04

Our own Jose Salviati did a bit of sleuthing today and here’s what he found out

Excited about the possibility of an Android based eReader from Barnes and Noble I reached out to the bookstore giant from New York.  Why not go to the source, right?  Unfortunately, the response from B&N was very politically-correct; no admissions, no denials.

“Barnes & Noble has made no announcement about a device.” Mary Ellen Keating Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs for Barnes and Noble told me.  “Barnes & Noble believes that readers should have access to the books in their digital library from any device, anywhere, at anytime.” What better platform for the “anywhere, anytime” device than Android, right Mary Ellen? <Insert silence here>.

With Kindle sales projected to be 1 billion in 2010 it makes sense that Barnes and Noble is at least looking at devices to get a piece of the eReader pie.  Android as the platform of choice for this mystery device also makes sense.  For now though the official word is mum.  More to come, I’m sure.

The plot thickens!

The truth is out there, somewhere!  Mary Ellen Keating mentioned the IREX device to me when we communicated earlier.  Now, it’s always dangerous to read intent into an email but her reply only listed the IREX device along side others they intent to support.  Keating did not single it out as the one they would put their name on.

We are supporting many devices i.e. Plastic Logic’s forthcoming device, Irex’s new device, iphone and ipod touch, blackberry, and PCs.

This is where we throw it back to you… do you think these are the same devices?  Is Android going to be part of the picture?

Thanks for the tip Carl!


Image source: NatickNavigator

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