Feeds

Sprint and Hearst launch Skiff ereader

But competition means it won't be plain sailing

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

If touchscreen phones were the new buzz gadgets of 2008, this has certainly been the year of the ereader. This is especially true in the US, where operators have spotted the opportunity to adopt the integrated device/content model beloved of Apple, and build a new revenue stream.

The latest contender comes from a partnership between Sprint Nextel and publishing giant Hearst, which will offer a service called Skiff, geared mainly to newspapers and magazines. Sprint made much capital, and some revenue, from its deal to power the veteran of the ebook services, Amazon Kindle. But the retail giant recently transferred its affections to AT&T to support its expansion into international markets, which required a GSM roaming partner.

The other best established e-reader is the Daily Edition, the latest in Sony's range, which also runs on AT&T's network. This will soon be joined by two forthcoming new entrants. One is from Plastic Logic, to be branded by the carrier itself, with the other being Barnes & Noble's Android-based Nook - though delays appear to mean this will miss the important holiday buying slot. Verizon Wireless also recently partnered with Philips spin-off iRex to power a new wireless ereader.

The Skiff venture promises to have strong layouts and graphics so that newspapers and magazines - delivered over the air straight from Hearst's new digital publishing service - appear more like their paper equivalents. This positions Skiff against the new, large-screen Kindle DX from Amazon, which supports a broadening range of US and international publications, including the New York Times and the London Times.

Further competition will come from the initiative which Rupert Murdoch has promised for Hearst arch-rival News Corp, which would involve a branded, large-size ereader optimized for newspaper delivery and probably confined to News Corp and other 'friendly' products. The battle to find a profit model in newspaper publishing, and conserve the value of the content, reached new heights recently when Murdoch accused Google of 'stealing' his firm's paid-for online content, and threatening to work only with Microsoft search service Bing.

Sprint will take a more visible role in Skiff, it seems, than it did in Kindle, where it merely provided the embedded wireless connection in return for a usage fee from Amazon. By contrast, it will sell Skiff readers from its stores and web sites, and additional distribution channels will be announced next year.

Skiff is wholly owned by Hearst and said its current priority is to work with major electronics manufacturers to "integrate Skiff's service, digital store and specialized client software into a range of innovative devices". In other words, again like Amazon, it will offer its software on PCs, phones and other products, alongside the more optimized experience of the dedicated ereader.

Its major challenge, along with making itself visible in a sea of US e-readers, will be to replicate the extremely simple and integrated experience of the Kindle device/store, which could teach iTunes a few lessons. ®

Copyright © 2009, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport
Breaches screening rules cos Apple SCREEN ROOLZ, ok?
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
The British Museum plonks digital bricks on world of Minecraft
Institution confirms it's cool with joining the blocky universe
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.