(Ed note: Reporting by Andrew Nusca on scene, written by Larry Dignan.)
IRex Technologies, a big e-reader player in Europe, took the stage with Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and Verizon in New York Wednesday to launch the iRex DR800SG and took more than a few jabs at Amazon. The game plan for IRex: Tout its e-reader as the more open device with more options.
IRex, a spin-off from Royal Philips Electronics, appeared to be positioning its e-reader as a tweener device between the netbook and Amazon's Kindle. The DR800SG has a touchscreen and uses 3G via Verizon and Wi-Fi for connectivity. The device will retail at Barnes & Noble for $399. No word on whether Verizon will subsidize the e-reader, but executives left the option open. Word of the iRex launched began to surface earlier Wednesday. IRex also just issued a statement on the launch.
Speaking at the New York Historical Society, Hans Brons, CEO of iRex, bashed Amazon for not being open and netbooks for being the Jack of all trades and master of none. The DR800SG will have color displays coming in 2011. "We've tried to create as neutral as possible device - without any whistles and bells and what have you," said Brons.
Barnes & Noble plans to sell multiple e-reader devices (it already has a deal with Plastic Logic). William Lynch, president of Barnesandnoble.com, said "we plan on marketing ebooks throughout our stores in a big way." "We hand select models that we think consumers want," he added.
Meanwhile, Best Buy will create a new e-reader category in its store at the end of October. IRex executives said they intend on adding more retailers in the first quarter of 2010.
Here's the first look: