Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Barnes & Noble Lands Irex, Another Would-Be Kindle Killer

booksHere’s another company choosing a side in the coming e-book war: Irex Technologies, a Dutch company that plans on selling a Kindle-like reader in the U.S. this fall, has allied itself with Barnes & Noble’s online bookstore.

Irex is the second e-book reader company to join up with Barnes & Noble (BKS); earlier this summer Plastic Logic made a similar announcement. Neither company has a product that’s actually on the U.S. market.

Plastic Logic says its device, which it showed off at the D7 conference in late May, will go on sale next year; Irex sells machines in Europe, but hasn’t demoed its newest gadget in the U.S. yet. Its says its newest reader will feature an 8.1-inch touchscreen and a 3G wireless connection.

Irex doesn’t spell it out, but suggests that the relationship with the bookseller won’t be exclusive. Canned quote from Kevin Hamilton, North American CEO of Irex Technologies: “We will change the dynamics of the consumer market–users want to easily purchase content from a variety of sources and we allow them to read it on an IREX eReader as well as other devices.”

The announcement is one of a series we’ve seen this summer as would-be rivals to Amazon’s Kindle try to gear up for a big push against the market leader. The jostling for position includes competing boasts about whose bookstore is bigger and whose is more open.

Part of me thinks this is all for naught since Amazon has moved so far ahead of the pack already. And part of me thinks the e-book industry remains wide open since it’s still so very small and undefined. And it’s entirely possible that the e-book market won’t be dominated by single-use products like the Kindle, but will end up being driven by smartphones like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone.

Sony (SNE), meanwhile, has already introduced a new line of readers this month and has another product announcement set for Tuesday morning in New York. I’ll drop by that one and report back….

[Image credit: sapphireblue]