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eReader Risk

I used to hate playing the board game Risk because it tended to start family fights and end in hurt feelings. With Risk, the game goes on until one player rules the world. It's not fundamentally different from Monopoly except that in Monopoly we never made alliances against other players, and in Risk we did.

The eReader marker is starting to resemble Risk as the various players ramp up their equipment, and form alliances with publishers, and booksellers. Kindle has a significant lead in the U.S. eReader market, mostly because of the inherent convenience of the wireless connection. What wireless does for Kindle is to make it not only quick and easy but self-contained. You don't need a computer, ever, unless you want to send private documents or free ebooks to it, in which case you need to be able to go onto the web to set things up in the "Manage My Kindle" page.

Sony, on the other hand, has done well overseas because without wireless, it's geographically neutral. It started out not being Mac compatible, but they overcame that problem already. Now they're announced a new wireless model, with a touchscreen, which Kindle does not have.

But Amazon is not standing still. It now appears that Kindle will be available in Europe sooner than expected! Surprisingly, Sony says they don't think the UK market is ready for wireless and they plan to wait at least a year! I guess Amazon will find out for them; it will be interesting to see who's right on that one. Or possibly Hanlin or Cybook or some other eReader manufacturer will come through with a wireless device that works in Europe to compete with Kindle.

And meanwhile, just like my younger brother used to come from behind and sweep his armies through Asia, Apple is expected to launch a tablet PC, sort of an overgrown iTouch, that will work as an eReader as well as doing many other things. The iTouch and iPhone already function as an eReader, but the screens are so small, many people still want a dedicated eReader. An Apple table could meet that need, trading color and an easy user interface for the lack of eye strain and superb battery length provided by e-ink.

And jut as a game of Risk could leave my family not speaking to each other, the worry is that all these devices will force the consumer to pick one and stick with it, because ebooks bought on one won't work on another.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
And the thing we need to worry about is—what if the worst format wins? After all, Betamax was supposed to have been much better than VHS.
Aug. 27th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
Well, of course my Risk analogy could completely break down. It might well be that no one eReader dominates completely. That might be good, too. I don't see the appeal of a touch screen eReader; for one thing, with my Kindle I can hold it in my right hand and still press the page forward button one-handed. But folks who like touch screens now have that and wireless, too. Likewise, the folks who scream for backlit (not realizing e-ink is easier on their eyes, long term) can have it in the Apple.
Aug. 27th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Hehe, if you thought Risk was bad, you should have tried playing Colditz ;)
Aug. 27th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Never heard of that one. Sounds pretty grim!


World domination seems kind of abstract but German POW camps sound not only recent but all too real. Still, I suppose if they could make Hogan's Heroes, they could make a board game. It doesn't sound like the British TV show was played for laughs:


Probably just as well I never tried the game.
Aug. 27th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
It came out in the mid-seventies, in tandem with the TV series. It was fun to play, but if you were camp commandant, you got really unpopular by thwarting people's escape attempts :)
Aug. 27th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Just as well my older brother never got his hands on that one.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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