Sprint partners with Hearst on new ereader service

Sprint Nextel will provide wireless connectivity for a range of dedicated ereaders next year as part of a new digital publishing service from Hearst. The service, called Skiff, will transmit content from newspapers, magazines and other sources to various devices, and Hearst is positioning the offering as an alternative to Aamazon.com's Kindle store--arguing the content from Skiff will have better graphics and richer layouts.

The multi-year contract with Sprint for 3G connectivity in the United States is a win for the carrier in the digital ereader market. Sprint was the original force that powered Amazon's Kindle device, but the ereader market has grown increasingly crowded this year as carriers have expanded their wireless services beyond traditional voice and data offerings. Indeed, Verizon Wireless has partnered with Royal Philips Electronics spinoff iRex Technologies to power the firm's touchscreen ereader device, and AT&T Mobility will provide wireless service for four separate ereaders: the Nook from Barnes & Noble; Amazon's Kindle (the international edition); Sony's Daily Edition device; and Plastic Logic's forthcoming ereader.

Sprint will sell Skiff readers in its retail stores and online, and additional distribution channels will be announced next year. Skiff, which is wholly owned by Hearst right now, said it is working with major electronics manufacturers to "integrate Skiff's service, digital store and specialized client software into a range of innovative devices." Skiff also said the new service would be available through smartphones and netbooks, but did not provide details.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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