It’s clear that e-books are the future of printed works, even if right now Amazon’s Kindle is the only device that demonstrates the power of the new medium. But with news that Rupert Murdoch wants in on the scene, and with Verizon being courted by e-book makers, it looks like the triumph of the new tech is assured.
Murdoch’s interest in e-books surfaced via AllThingsD: His company is definitely investing cash into a new e-reader that has a “bigger screen” and four colors. It’s clearly intended as a competitor to the Amazon Kindle, which has a fairly diminutive screen more suited for book reading than magazine-or newspaper-style content, and can just display black and white or grayscale imagery. That News Corp would show interest in e-books is actually not much of a surprise–the end of the printed-paper news industry is being hastened by the failing economy and advancing tech, and if News Corp wants to remain on top of the game it’s only natural to embrace the next big thing. You can imagine similar discussions going on in newspaper boardrooms when color printing became possible.
There’s also news that Verizon was approached by manufacturers of e-books on the subject of integrating a wireless downloading system into their technology. That’s a direct parallel to the in-built Sprint connection in the Kindle and Kindle 2 that makes them strong gadgets: if you want a new book when you’re out and about, you can just download it. Speaking at the CTIA wireless tech fair, Verizon’s man in charge of access to “non-phone devices,” Tony Lewis, noted that five companies approached Verizon. He wouldn’t name them, of course, but he did suggest that some may be interested in offering content that Amazon currently doesn’t–like college textbooks.
AT&T has also entertained similar requests, and the company’s consumer services head Ralph de la Vega notes that due to its similarities to other cell networks across the globe, AT&T is interesting to e-book makers who have their eye on global markets.
With all this attention beginning to swirl up around e-books, it looks like they’ll evolve from being the niche, mainly U.S. centric gadgets they currently are into a global phenomenon pretty swiftly. All that’s required it seems are advances in e-paper/e-ink technology and a clever business model–two things that News Corps financial attention can definitely help with.