COOL-ER hypes its progress

I am sure this story will be picked up around the e-book-o-sphere as revelatory, proof the e-reader’s time has come: British ebook Reader Becomes Bestseller. It’s a remarkably unchallenged PR effort. Neil Jones, CEO of Interead tells Sky News his e-reader has sold “tens of thousands…in only three months” and that “we are already in profit.” Jones previously described the launch of the COOL-ER as the “iPod moment for ereaders.

How many tens of thousands? Sky’s Jeff Randall let that slide. What is a “profit” on a device that sells for £189 ($311 U.S) in “every country on the planet“? That’s an expensive launch. If Interead has sold 20,000 devices, for instance, it has $6.2 million in top-line revenue. It’s doubtful that the fully loaded cost of getting those devices designed, manufactured and marketed was less than $6 million. Who knows, maybe they’ve sold 30,000, which would put the device somewhere in the low- to moderately well performing e-readers by sales in its first three months—Kindle sold about 370,000 units in its first year by my estimates.

But an iPod moment? iPod sold 378,000 units in its first year (2001-2002). With Kindle and Plastic Logic coming to market in Britain and worldwide, respectively, in 2010, it’s hard to see COOL-ER sustaining its sales momentum without substantial additional investment in marketing and upgraded designs in the face of both dedicated e-readers and smartphone/PC competition, which will increase dramatically next year.

Scrutiny of these kinds of claims is needed. It has been delivered forthwith.

There is also no clear definition of what constitutes a “bestseller.” Marketers make up lots of this as they go along to regale the press and stupefy customers.

About Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran entrepreneur, journalist and business model hacker. He operates this site, which is a collection of the blogs he's published over the years, as well as an archive of his professional publishing record. As always, this is a work in progress. Such is life.
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