Yet another desperate kiss of life to the old e-paper reader?

We knew it had been in the works for a while but here we go now, the French economic daily Les Echos, an FT’s subsidiary since 1989, is launching its e-paper offering today.

e-paper
When will we, at last, get rid of these bulky broadsheets, will e-paper do the job?

Although this is a world premiere, I am not quite sure that this new attempt at reviving the defunct e-paper initiative is extremely compelling.

Earlier versions of such contraptions had already been launched at the heart of the 2000 bubble and already, we could perceive that there was a glitch somewhere in this great marketing scheme:

  • For a start, specific devices were required, and they were costly. Once you had invested in such contraptions they could not be turned into anything else.
  • Secondly, the content was poor and rare.
  • Thirdly, these devices were ugly, bulky and heavy.
  • Fourthly, the targeted segment for such widgets is already fully equipped with PDAs, smartphones, lightweight laptops, Tablet PCs, UMPCs and the like. I remember a lady from the national institute for research and agronomics (INRA) showing me that device at the time and she spent all the time trying to tell me it was a great thing that one was able to read stuff on a screen (in fact, brightness and battery life was also an issue on those devices). Um! I showed her my PDA and she was gobsmacked and couldn’t even understand what it was.

Now I am under the impression that this attempt is another desperate kiss of life for the little desired bulky e-reader. The device is pricy (€600-€700+ depending on the model you chose), it’s huge and non-versatile and the yearly subscription for content seems quite overpriced (€365 ie €1 a day, ie no incentive to bypass the practical paper version worth €1.20 which I buy from the kiosk every now and then).

I find it very disappointing, and expectations raised at 3GSM by Cellular readers and Telecom Italia are this time again falling flat. Will we ever get rid of all this waste of paper? Isn’t it frustrating?

Yann Gourvennec
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