The Google (NSDQ: GOOG) eBookstore has yet to become a dominant player in the e-book market, but it is hoping that the launch of the new iriver e-reader will change that.
As Google notes on its blog, Google e-books are already available on the over 80 e-readers that support Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) Digital Editions, including Nook and Kobo e-readers (but not the Kindle). Google is playing up the fact that the Google The Google eBookstore is built into the iriver Story HD, allowing users to download Google e-books wirelessly for the first time. The iriver Story HD will be sold exclusively at Target and Target.com for $139.99.
But it seems unlikely that that will be enough to entice readers to purchase an e-reader from an unknown brand. iriver is a consumer electronics company based in South Korea, and its products–primarily portable media players–are more popular in Asia and Europe than in the U.S. The company’s share of the U.S. e-reader market is basically nonexistent.
iriver claims the Story HD, which was shown at CES in January, has a higher resolution screen than any other e-reader on the market and a three-week battery life. That’s not particularly impressive considering that B&N’s new Nook Simple Touch, at the same price, has a two-month battery life and a touchscreen. And the Kobo Touch, at $129.99, has a one-month battery life and touchscreen. The new Nook and Kobo were both announced in May and are now available for purchase.
The Google eBookstore, which just launched in December 2010, is believed to have well under 10 percent of market share for e-book sales. Google is attempting to expand the eBookstore’s reach through, most recently, an affiliates program and partnerships with independent bookstores, and it hasn’t ruled out an e-book rental service.