Sold down the river
Google has announced the launch of the first e-reader that has the Google books platform integrated. The iriver Story HD is a Wi-Fi e-reader that allows you to download any of the three million titles Google has controversially scanned and made available for free.
The thing is you can already access these books via the web, apps for Android and iOS and the Nook and Sony e-readers, so that does beg the question of why a dedicated device is required at all.
"With the Story HD you can now browse, buy and read Google eBooks with your e-reader through Wi-Fi, rather than downloading and transferring them from computer to e-reader with a cord as you can already do with more than 80 compatible devices," said Google, by means of explanation, in a blog post.
The point also seems to be to demonstrate how lovely and open the Google books platform is, and how OEMs like iriver can use the API to provide out-of-the-box access to a complete e-bookstore.
Google says the iRiver Story HD will be available in the US for $139.99 from this Sunday via a retailer called Target. It also points to the iriver website to find out more, but we could see no sign of the product, or much other information for that matter. The Android app is also apparently unavailable outside the US, so it remains to be seen how committed Google is to taking on the e-reader device incumbents.