Catching Kindle

July 22, 2009: 10:45 AM ET

Days after deal with Barnes & Noble, Plastic Logic teams with AT&T to take on Amazon's electronic reader

With today's announcement that AT&T (T) would be supplying on-board, high-speed data connectivity to the upcoming Plastic Logic eReader, the last piece has fallen into place for the first real challenger to take on Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle. 

Yesterday Plastic Logic announced a partnership deal with Barnes & Noble (BN) to start selling e-books in Q1 when the device launches. Now it gets wireless-anywhere connectivity to supplement WiFi. (A Plastic Logic spokesman said that neither company was divulging, at thus point, whether the AT&T connection would be bundled free with the eReader--like Kindle's WhisperNet service-- or whether it would cost extra.) 

Next up: Sony, (SNE) which will doubtless be adding the same kinds of functionality to its e-reader. And I expect interesting thing from the iRex, the Philips (PHG) spinoff.

Clearly, I'm not understanding Amazon's game. I've long assumed that it intended to get out of the device business as soon as possible, and concentrate on just selling e texts. (The Kindle succeeded brilliantly by igniting the market.) That said, by gouging publishers and attempting to disintermediate them, and unilaterally "disappearing" 1984 from users' Kindles, I wonder how many partner and customers it'll have by the time healthy competition develops.

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