Faced with falling prices in the e-reader market, Plastic Logic has cancelled the release of the pricey Que ProReader, which the company says will be redesigned.
Plastic Logic introduced the Que with much fanfare in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev. The company at the time positioned the Que as an electronic reader aimed at professionals willing to pay as much as $799 for a thin, lightweight device that could store and access the electronic versions of business documents, books, magazines and newspapers.
Since then, e-reader prices in general have plummeted and new competition is emerging in the form of tablet computers, particularly the Apple iPad launched in April. The market changes have led Plastic Logic to drop the original Que and move to what the company calls a "second-generation" ProReader.
"We recognize the market has dramatically changed, and with the product delays we have experienced, it no longer makes sense for us to move forward with our first generation electronic reading product," Richard Archuleta, chief executive for Plastic Logic, said in a statement released Tuesday. "This was a hard decision, but is the best one for our company, our investors and our customers."
The company did not release a timetable for the new product. "We plan to take the necessary time needed to re-enter the market as we refocus, redesign and retool for our next generation ProReader product," Archuleta said.
Plastic Logic originally planned to launch the Que in mid-April. With a 10.7-inch diagonal screen, the Que would have competed with Amazon's Kindle DX, which has a 9.7-inch display. The standard Kindle has a six-inch screen.
However, even then the Que was priced much higher than the competition. Plastic Logic had planned to charge $799 for the 3G wireless version of the Que, while the comparable Kindle DX cost $489.
Since then, Amazon has slashed the prices of all its Kindle products. The DX now sells for $379, while the standard Kindle sells for $139 for the Wi-Fi-only model and $189 for the 3G wireless version, which originally cost $259. Today, under-$200 e-readers are available from Sony, booksellers Barnes & Noble and Borders, and others.
Also competing against Plastic Logic and other e-reader manufacturers today is the iPad, a tablet-style computer that can be used as an e-reader, as well as a computer for web browsing, checking email, playing video, viewing pictures and listening to music. The device starts at $499.
Apple has already sold more than 3.3 million iPads, which means companies selling dedicated e-readers need to sell the devices for considerably less in order to attract avid readers, analysts say.
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