Verizon joins rivals in ereader market

Verizon Wireless is adding another chapter to the story of the ereader market.

The carrier is going to provide 3G EV-DO network support for an ereader made by iRex Technologies, a spinoff of Royal Philips Electronics. The device, called the iRex DR800SG, will get hefty support from Best Buy, which begins selling the ereader in its stores next month for $399.99.

Verizon's entry into the burgeoning ereader market follows moves by Sprint Nextel and AT&T Mobility to provide 3G wireless support for the gadgets. Sprint powers Amazon's Kindle devices, and AT&T offers connectivity for both Sony's new ereader, called the Daily Edition, and an ereader from electronics startup Plastic Logic.

The iRex device will have an 8.1-inch touchscreen display, and users will be able to download content from the Barnes & Noble eBookstore. The ereader also has a Gobi chip made by Qualcomm, allowing users to access 3G mobile broadband networks around the world.

Clearly, both Verizon and Best Buy see a sound business case in supporting the ereader market. "The e-reader has high awareness, but most people have still not seen or touched or played with them," Chris Homeister, senior vice president for entertainment at Best Buy, told the New York Times. "We feel that this is a technology that is beginning to emerge, and that we can bring a unique experience to the marketplace."

In a release, Verizon was equally effusive about its support for the iRex device. However, according to the Times, Verizon has no plans to subsidize the device and sell it in its stores, as it has done with netbooks.

For more:
- see this release
- see this NYT article

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