Asus to launch Eee e-book reader in 2009; MSI mulling move over

Asustek plans to launch an e-book reader under its popular Eee brand by the end of 2009 at the earliest, according to company president Jerry Shen.In a brief DigiTimes report, Micro-Star International -- known as MSI to the rest of us -- is also reportedly evaluating the e-book reader market.

Asustek plans to launch an e-book reader under its popular Eee brand by the end of 2009 at the earliest, according to company president Jerry Shen.

In a brief DigiTimes report, Micro-Star International -- known as MSI to the rest of us -- is also reportedly evaluating the e-book reader market.

According to the report, industry insiders say "the requirements for entering the e-book reader market are even lower than for netbooks."

The challenge is in establishing a content delivery platform.

Amazon's already set the bar with its own website and sales network that WhisperSyncs with its Kindle e-book reader. And Barnes & Noble's partnership with Plastic Logic will leverage that book vendor's extensive imprint on the U.S. market.

Will the move succeed for small companies such as Asus and MSI?

According to the article, e-book readers are only popular in North America and Europe thanks to differences in reading habits compared to the Asian market.

That proves to be a challenge for Asus and MSI if they decide to enter the market, since netbooks don't require a content delivery system to be successful.

However, MSI and Asus made inroads into the North American market thanks to low prices for their netbooks.

That same "small-player" approach could help drive down the price of e-readers, which now hover between $300 and $500 (though Sony recently announced a $199 e-reader).