Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 13, 2010
On April 14, Spring Design will start shipping Alex, yet another new e-reader to compete with current market leader, Amazon’s Kindle line. Alex offers access to more than 1 million books and allows for Web browsing and even using e-mail. Unlike the Kindle, it can also access and run apps. Unlike the Kindle, it has a full-color touch screen. Unlike the Kindle, it allows users to store content on a removable SD card.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Spring Design may be a start-up, but it has some formidable backers. Co-founder Albert Teng was a general manager at chipmaker Intel. Co-founder Jack Yuan previously co-founded storage maker SanDisk. Its partners include search giant Google and software maker Adobe. Because Alex can read digital books published in so-called ePub format, users will be able to download books from Google Books, which offers free public-domain older books and magazines.
Alex is entering a market crowded with offerings from giants, such as Amazon, Sony and Barnes & Noble. Apple’s iPad tablet, and other upcoming tablets and netbook computers could compete head-to-head with e-readers as well.
Alex is yet another device adding to the pressure for Amazon to innovate, and to add more features to the Kindle, which is increasingly beginning to look less capable than rival offerings.