If there's one area where companies have flocked to play catch up, it's the tablet PC market. There's no doubt that the race to catch the iPad is on, but there's one other area where companies have also been flocking, albeit with less commotion. That's the e-reader market, where Amazon's Kindle
still dominates and the Barnes & Noble NOOK
is the next closest competitor.
But a lot of smaller companies are attempting to undercut the big players with cheaper, less featured devices. Only time will tell if people really are willing to pay less for e-readers without 3G or Wi-Fi, but we suspect that Sharp won't be one of those companies who just strips their e-reader down in hopes of competing.
According to a recent report, Sharp
is planning to enter the crowded e-reader market later this year "with a device that can read a new e-publishing file format of its own." We aren't so sure that creating your own format is a great idea, but they are apparently going to try. Sony has had lots of trouble getting people to adopt their formats while more open alternatives were available, and these days, the e-reader format war is essentially over.
Reportedly, Sharp's e-reader will read files in the XMDF (ever-eXtending Mobile Document Format), a "format developed by Sharp and used in some of its previous devices." The new version of the format will add support for multi-media data and will enable audio and video to be embedded into e-paper pages, which definitely sounds nifty. But again, adoption could be tough, and Sharp has yet to confirm whether their e-reader(s) will even support other formats.
No details on device design have been announced, but there are reports that the unit could come to the U.S. via a deal with Verizon Wireless, who would likely provide 3G data services for downloading new content on the go. No pricing information is available yet, either.