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Old 09-10-2008, 10:22 PM   #1
charlieperry
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When are ebook readers going to become an essential enterprise tool?

A few decades ago now there was a tipping point when the electronic calculator became cheap enough and available enough that everyone had to suddenly have one on their desk.

I wonder how far away that point is for the ebook reader?

My desk at work is covered in paper. Whenever I have to read anything more than a couple of pages I print it out. If I had an A4 sized reader then I'd quite happily put a report on the reader to read it. Reading requires comfort. It requires a device which can be easily moved and lifted depending on what body position is most comfortable. I have three main reading positions: lying down, sitting back or sitting over a desk. Sitting bolt upright looking at a laptop screen on a desk is not a comfortable reading position for me. Reading at home and reading at work should be no different.

Some of the new big-screened readers like the Flepia and Plastic Logic's device look to me like they could be serious contenders in the enterprise space. I wonder if any large companies will make the leap and issue them to all staff.
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:10 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by charlieperry View Post
If I had an A4 sized reader then I'd quite happily put a report on the reader to read it.
I'd say this is one of the critical points. I'm willing to read on a small screen (the iLiad is bigger than most of the other readers out there, but still only A5) but most people want A4/Letter at least. If Plastic Logic manages to deliver large low-cost durable screens, and someone designs an intuitive interface for a device so it can, for example, receive a file by using the "print" function on a PC, I think it will change the way we deal with paper in offices.
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by nekokami View Post
for example, receive a file by using the "print" function on a PC, I think it will change the way we deal with paper in offices.
I completely agree. If I had the ability to do that - I would cease to use paper. I must add that annotation capabilities and then wireless transmission of a wireless document back to the PC would also make this something that would hold a great deal of appeal.
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:00 AM   #4
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when its cheaper than paper and you can treat it like paper
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:34 AM   #5
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and manuals

.....Know what you mean but I think the first big easy step will be to provide IT&T maintenance people with the reader. Think of the pro's...
1. IT technicians are generally very happy with new technology
2. They generally have the most advanced phones
3. If you've ever worked for one of the larger IT companies (Telco or computer) you could easily fill a filing cabinet with all the manuals. Most technicians have a full set stored in the garage.

This is a no brainer. The printing and distribution costs are massive.

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Old 09-11-2008, 11:43 AM   #6
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If we mis-apply Moore's Law which can be stated in two ways
1) the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18-24 months, for the same cost
2) the cost of a given number of transistors on a chip halves every 18-24 months
then:

mid 2008: 6" screen, $300 or £180 or €215
late 2009: 6" screen, $150 or £90 or €108
mid 2011: 6" screen, $75 or £45 or €54
at this stage a Kindle/Sony type device costs about the same as two hard back books. This is the sort of price point that I think parents would be happy to buy their kids 1 device every year or so dependent on wear and tear/theft etc.

If users decide that a larger screen is their preferred size then if follows that the tipping point arrives at some later point in time.
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:16 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by jamesdmanley View Post
when its cheaper than paper and you can treat it like paper
Spot on. That's what happened with digital photography. The erudite argument between luddites and evangelists was irrelevant.

One day Joe Public woke up and discovered that digital cameras were easier and cheaper and produced results which were just as good for the size of reproduction commonly used.
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Old 09-12-2008, 07:05 AM   #8
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The department I work for has recently implemented a new client data base system, the boffins at head office did not want there to be any print functionality on the system in order to be environmentally friendly. It was quickly pointed out to them, that our client files MUST be able to be printed out as they are frequently subpoenaed for court purposes. They then agreed for a print function but they totally crippled it and it take around 10 minutes to print a case note (although admin can do a bulk file print easily).

If there were an A4 size reader then it would make this concept of a paperless office so much more attainable. We might even be able to persuade courts and lawyers that it was a preferable way to present files which are heavy and bulky and hard to navigate through. I for one would love to have an A4 device that I could read PDF documents on.

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Old 09-12-2008, 07:55 AM   #9
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I have had a number of people very interested in reading devices that decided to wait for prices to come down. I am not sure when or if that will happen but the fact is the price is too high at the moment for widespread adoption. That is not meant to be a judgment on the pricing policy of manufacturers.

As much as I support readers and e ink I also dont think that they are ready to replace paper. I used an iliad for a time and found that waiting 45 s for it to start up and then creating a blank document and so on was a lot slower and less convenient than a pen and paper.
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Old 09-12-2008, 10:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Spot on. That's what happened with digital photography. The erudite argument between luddites and evangelists was irrelevant.

One day Joe Public woke up and discovered that digital cameras were easier and cheaper and produced results which were just as good for the size of reproduction commonly used.
exactly. with business, you have to offer more, do it better, and cost less. when that happens, e-ink will replace paper. i can definitely see some really promising possibilities for e-ink in the business setting, but not any time soon
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Old 09-12-2008, 10:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nigeldb View Post
.....Know what you mean but I think the first big easy step will be to provide IT&T maintenance people with the reader. Think of the pro's...
1. IT technicians are generally very happy with new technology
2. They generally have the most advanced phones
3. If you've ever worked for one of the larger IT companies (Telco or computer) you could easily fill a filing cabinet with all the manuals. Most technicians have a full set stored in the garage.

This is a no brainer. The printing and distribution costs are massive.

Nigeldb
They are, which is why most software you buy these days comes with electronic documentation. I once wondered what a complete set of manuals for an IBM s370 series mainframe would look like. I once worked in that environment, and the answer to a question always seemed to be in a manual I didn't have, no many how many manuals I accumulated. (I suspect a complete set would fill a garage.)

But I don't see dedicated readers taking over this function. To be cost effective, they need to do other things besides display manuals. The tech in the field might well carry a laptop. He'll be reluctant to carry a laptop and a reader, in addition to whatever specialized tools he might need if he deals with hardware.
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Old 09-12-2008, 11:04 AM   #12
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Cost vs True Cost

I think the cost of paper in a business setting is far greater than many realize. If the true cost of printing, distribution, filing, storage and retrieval, and eventual destruction, are taken into account, than adoption of e-readers will happen much faster than you might imagine, if the e-reader software tools answer business needs. As a records manager I see all these costs first hand. In my company alone, for just a single office, we are spending over $400,000 for offsite storage, onsite storage of work in process is even more expensive for this 600 person office. We are moving as rapidly as possible to printing less paper and storing as must as we can electronically. Management is not even aware of e-paper technology, so this is all happening without this tool. With a business sized reader available, even at a fairly high up front cost, I think we can accelerate our goals. When one is available I will cetainly buy one and do a show & tell to upper management.
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Old 09-12-2008, 02:01 PM   #13
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As DMcCunney says above it will happen when the screens improve to the point that ereaders and general portable computing devices become one. Bascially what is needed is color, a good size, and a refresh rate that will support interactive business applications. Everyone who works in my office needs these things to get their jobs done. We don't sit around reading documents for hours and hours, we sit around working on documents for hours and hours along with using Word, Excel and other specialized business applications. Right now everyone has a laptop. If the screen were more readable that would be a bonus but it's not critical. I rarely print off documents now as the readability of a laptop screen is good enough for my work purposes. Plus at our desks we all dock the laptop and use large lcd monitors, some people even have dual monitors. What exactly would a dedicated ereader buy us in this environment? So to answer you directly I don't see a dedicated ebook reader ever becoming an essential general enterprise business tool. They are too specialized.

BTW, some background on me, I've worked in the IT department of a large (60,000 plus) global (we are in almost every country in the world) company for 19 years. We deploy standarized computing solutions to these 60,000 employees.

Last edited by TheJohnNewton; 09-12-2008 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 09-12-2008, 02:48 PM   #14
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To make a good enterprise business reader I think, like TheJohnNewton says, you have to be able to integrate it with business applications. If you could synch it to your computer, have cooperative editing of documents, have it synch with your contacts and calendar like a good PDA, etc. I do think the readability of the screen is important, though. Most people won't read long documents on their computers because it's uncomfortable. I don't think the screen tech we have is good enough yet but I think we'll get there. It does need to be faster and preferably color. I'd love to have a device that was a thin, light, low-power tablet that you could use with a touch screen or pair with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse or a lapop style keyboard base that it could clip into which would double as it's cover. It could be like an ultra-thin laptop with a removable touchscreen.
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Old 09-13-2008, 12:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMartin View Post
As much as I support readers and e ink I also dont think that they are ready to replace paper. I used an iliad for a time and found that waiting 45 s for it to start up and then creating a blank document and so on was a lot slower and less convenient than a pen and paper.
I still use my iLiad, but I admit that I find these delays frustrating as well, and I can't really recommend the iLiad to most people because of them. Hopefully a replacement will arrive (from whatever vendor) in the next few years that will offer a large screen, low weight and power consumption, and pen input, with a better sleep mode and faster screen responsiveness.
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