Newspaper publisher to launch Amazon Kindle competitor this year

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Hearst Corporation, known for publishing magazines like Esquire and Cosmopolitan, and newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle, is getting set to go into the e-reader business, after industry insiders claim that it is set to launch something that hopes to do the same thing that the Amazon Kindle has done for books.

Industry sources, being quoted by Fortune Magazine, say that the new Kindle-competitor is suited to the reading ad advertising specifications that newspapers and magazines follow; and publishers will be allowed to adapt the new technology, which is likely to debut this year.

While specifics haven’t been announced, publishers like Hearst are struggling as print revenue is in decline and their online revenue hasn’t been able to fill up the gap – and e-readers and other technologies are looking set to fill that void.

This e-reader isn’t the first time that they have experimented with technology. In 2000, before the web bubble burst, publishers gave away a cat-shaped barcode scanner, called the CueCat, that would allow them to scan ads in newspapers and that would take them to the URL, making it easier for them to go to the page and not type in the web address.

The CueCat, however, turned out to be a commercial disaster – and the fact, according to its Wikipedia page, that every model had a unique serial number and that the owners could compile a list of barcodes scanned by the user, saw privacy concerns with the device.

It also didn’t help when the product had a security breach in September of 2000, leaving 140,000 users and their details exposed.

And what we have learnt from the Kindle, it would debut with a black-and-white screen, and it would have a wireless connection, either from 3G or Wi-Fi. The Kindle uses its own, and free, 3G connection to download books and other content to the device.

While I don’t really care with the device, the bigger question is that can they convince advertisers and other publishers with the new technology?

Image from: shadowstorm/Flickr/CC