Will this device give Amazon’s Kindle a run for its money? Probably not, at least not on its own, but it’s a notable step for Google’s digital books initiative, as the first dedicated device with the search company’s eBooks platform integrated into the experience out of the box.
The price of the iRiver Story HD is $139.99 — 99 cents more than the standard Kindle. It goes on sale Sunday at Target stores. It comes as digital reading moves further into the mainstream — with ownership of e-readers rising to 12 percent of the U.S. population as of May, up from 6 percent last November, according to a recent Pew Internet Project study.
Up to this point, people wanting to read Google eBooks on dedicated e-readers needed to download them to a computer and transfer them to the device with a cord. The integration of the Google eBooks platform will let users browse, buy and download directly to the device over wifi.
In the post announcing the device this morning, the company said more integrated Google eBooks e-readers are on the way. Amazon’s Kindle currently dominates the e-reader market.
Drawing an analogy to the PC market, Google could be said to be following the Microsoft Windows model, planning to offer its e-books platform on e-reading devices from a variety of hardware manufacturers. In the realm of dedicated e-readers, Amazon is in some ways following the Apple model, offering its own software platform on its own e-reading device.
However, the Seattle e-commerce company also offers Kindle apps on a variety of multi-purpose devices, including smartphones, PCs, and tablets.