Plastic Logic: Even the delivery date is flexible

The big, bendable e-book reader is still a year away, but that's not too long to wait. The e-book market is still developing, and it barely exists at all for business users.

Last September, I wrote a piece about a new e-book reader under development at Plastic Logic (see " E-books: The flexible future ").

At the time, the company was hoping to ship its still unnamed e-book reader in the first half of this year. I was really looking forward to it, since it provides a unique combination of two valuable features: a big screen and enough flexibility to tolerate a little bit of bending. (I worry about my Kindle getting crunched in my briefcase.)

Plastic Logic's prototype e-book reader
Plastic Logic's prototype e-book reader Plastic Logic Limited

Monday night, I was watching the local news from KGO-TV in San Francisco, and caught a story on Plastic Logic. The reporter mentioned that the reader was due out "next year"-- so I sent an email to Plastic Logic's media-relations contact to check on that.

It turns out the report was correct. There are three reasons for the delay:

1) It's taking longer than expected to prepare Plastic Logic's factory in Germany to produce the devices, and the company wants to have plenty of inventory so that early buyers won't be disappointed, as many Kindle customers were in 2007.

2) The product itself is evolving with "more features and functionality."

3) Plastic Logic decided not to press for a product launch in the middle of the current recession.

I imagine the decision to wait a year was difficult for Plastic Logic, but it makes sense to me. The e-book market is still developing, and it barely exists at all for business users, the company's intended market.

Being the first to market with a large-format professional e-book reader hasn't given Irex Technologies any obvious advantage. The Irex 1000 series models ( described in depth here on CNET) are fine products, but most people I talk to haven't even heard of them.

Similarly, Sony's Reader beat Amazon's Kindle to market by over a year, but today the Kindle is pretty much synonymous with the consumer e-book market.

So in summary, I don't think 2010 is too late. Plastic Logic will get its chance to succeed. All it has to do now is deliver a great product.

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About the author

    Peter N. Glaskowsky is a computer architect in Silicon Valley and a technology analyst for the Envisioneering Group. He has designed chip- and board-level products in the defense and computer industries, managed design teams, and served as editor in chief of the industry newsletter "Microprocessor Report." He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.

     

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