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Monday, November 2, 2009

Watch Out Kindle! Here's Creative MediaBook

Earlier this year, we have seen Creative's Vado venturing into pocket video cam market and competing against Flip and Kodak pocket video cam.

Creative has its eyes now set on the Kindle's market. Amazon's Kindle is already making 2 million sales in US alone. But Kindle is just a device which displays text.

Knowing Creative, we think that they have something more under their sleeve. And this time, they are partnering big publishers such as Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). There will be more such partnerships in the future.

HOME-GROWN audio devices maker Creative Technology is plunging into the red-hot electronic book reader market.

A working prototype - for now dubbed the MediaBook - is ready and will go on trial soon. Its final version will likely have a touchscreen, a text-to-speech function and an SD memory card slot.

The e-book reader will also probably be Internet-enabled for a multimedia experience.
It will run on Creative's "Zii Technology" platform, chip and operating system.

Creative's offering is a relative late comer to a market already crowded with Amazon's Kindle, Sony's e-Reader and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

While these e-book readers reel in buyers with their ties to huge libraries of downloadable books, Creative plans to draw on the resources of at least 10 international and local publishers it is now in talks with. On the menu are fiction, newspapers, magazines and educational materials such as textbooks, said Creative director of business Internet services Vinson Chua.

"Half the content will be international and the other halt, local. We could tie up with publishers to offer subscription based content," he said.

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which publishes 17 newspapers and more than 100 magazines, could be among the local content providers.

SPH senior executive vice-president of marketing Leslie Fong said: "We are
discussing with Creative how SPH, as a significant content provider in Singapore, can provide what it has - stories, images, videos or radio programmes for the e-reader."

Creative is planning a few models of its e-book reader, from a base, text-only model for children to a higher-end one with capabilities to display text and pictures, Mr Chtia disclosed. It hopes to hawk the e-book reader in Singapore first, and then offer it in China and elsewhere in the region, as well as in the United States, where it has a foothold through its SoundBlaster audio cards.

This week, Creative's' project got a leg-up when the Media Development Authority (MDA) named it as a partner of its "FutureBooks" initiative, .which aims to grow technology for next - generation books. This means Creative will get MDA's support in funding and introductions to potential content producers.

Asked why the company was getting into e-book readers, Creative vice-president of strategic business Willie Png replied: "It is a big opportunity. Who has not owned or used a book? People are moving toward consuming media-rich content. "

He seems spot-on about the "big opportunity": Forrester Research, which projected that two million e-book readers would be sold this year in the US alone, has raised the number to three million.

But is it not too little, too late?

Mr Ilham Samudera, a senior market analyst at research firm IDC, does not think so, especially for markets in Singapore and across Asia.

He said, however, that whether Creative succeeds hinges on its ties with big publishers, its pricing structure and its range of content. It also depends on what other services its e-book reader can offer.

Creative is not new to entering a market dominated by big players.

Mr Png said Amazon's Kindle "ultimately is just another electronic device which displays books in text". Creative will go beyond replicating it, he said.
"We are harnessmg videos, pictures, text and services in one device that supports a media-rich experience," he said.

via Straits Times


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