Add Asus to the list of consumer electronic companies set to make plays in the e-reader market. By the end of the year, Asus plans to unveil as many as two e-readers, the company tells the Times of London. Features may include two side-by-side full color screens (so that users can look at two pages at once or browse the web while reading a book), speakers, a mic, and a webcam. A budget version will sell for around 100 pounds ($164). No word on how much the premium version will cost.
Asus will face steep competition, but at least based on the price of its lower-end device it should be able to gain ground. At roughly $164, the device would likely be the cheapest e-reader on the market (Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) sells its Kindle 2 for $299). And a survey released last week by Forrester indicated that the potential market for e-readers would increase significantly if the average price of the devices was cut to below $150.
Asus also has experience disrupting established markets with cheaper products. It launched its low-price Eee PC netbook in 2007, which has since stolen market share from traditional laptop makers and led to a wave of other netbooks coming to market.
Other big consumer electronics companies are also likely to soon bring e-readers on the market. In early June, Forrester pegged a number ofdevice manufacturersincluding Panasonic, Palm (NSDQ: PALM), Lenovo, and LGas possible future entrants. Samsung announced plans for its own e-reader in late July.
By Joseph Tartakoff