iRiver’s got another Kindle competitor

iRiver, which dominated the market for “personal music players” or “MP3 Players” back in the days when we referred to portable music by technology acronyms and iPod was just a sparkle in the eyes of a few Apple folks, is reported to building a Google Android-based media player and an e-book reader. But, wait, the devices are “not yet 100 per cent signed off” yet, said iRiver product manager Danny Bejanoff in the article. The company is also developing a Web tablet and e-book reader that will be available in Australia “for testing” soon, according to Bejanoff.

Sounds like a trial balloon.

I believe the device referred to as a Web tablet is, or is related to, the P7, a $209.00 tablet-like device with 16GB of memory already offered by iRiver in the U.S. A $179.00 8GB version is also available.

Fun fact to know and tell question of the day: What company preceded iRiver with the first portable downloadable audio player? It’s not this, which was the first device designed for music playback. Enter your answers in Comments!

Nokia’s Symbian gambit

Nokia today announced via Twitter that it will not make a smartphone based on Google’s Android operating system. This is significant because it shows that hardware makers are concerned about losing control of their relationship with customers.

Symbian, Nokia’s favored OS—it has slowly acquired the company that develops the OS since joining it as a partner in the mid-90s—will remain Nokia’s focus. It prevents Google from claiming a direct relationship with Nokia’s customers through the OS, meaning Google will have to invest in a Google Books for Symbian application (it has various apps for Symbian already), or partner with Nokia, to gain access to Nokia smartphone users who want to buy or read ad-supported e-books.

UPDATE: Analysts say Nokia is doomed, will lose out to Apple in two years. Rumors of Nokia’s death have run rampant before. The question remains whether it will stay at the forefront in its relationship with customers. Apple mastered that challenge with the App Store, Nokia’s not in the position to do the same.

Wattpad debuts on Google Android phones

WattpadlogoWattpad, a venerable ebook sharing community founded in 2006, has introduced its Wattpad e-reader application for smartphones that run on Google’s Android operating system. (The Android download is not currently listed on the company’s download page, here. Mobile phones may download Wattpad here.) It is also available on Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry and Nokia’s Symbian OSes.

The company has more than 10,000 new titles published by members each month. The Wattpad application has been downloaded more than 3.1 million times as of June 1, 2009.

The significance of this announcement is somewhat muted by the emphasis on mobile handsets. Android is Google’s fulcrum for dislodging Microsoft Windows across a variety of platforms, including netbooks, laptops and desktop computers. It is also the foundation of an interactive cable/TV initiative, all of which would be open to Wattpad users. Asus, for example, has announced an Android netbook, and many more Google-powered devices are on the way.

Netbooks, tablet PCs and other home- and office-oriented screens will soon be book-reading devices, as well.