If you didn’t hear about it, a device launched this week called the WikiReader. Appropriately named, it’s a small gadget that gives you access to Wikipedia. It’s $99, has no WiFi (the entire Wikipedia site is effectively downloaded via SD cards), and does nothing but Wiki. Which, as I started to say, sounds great, if only…
There weren’t way too many other ways to do exactly this AND it weren’t another single purpose device! This thing seems like it was dreamed up in a lab by someone back in 2004 and brought to market 5 years later. What’s next, CitySearchEr and PocketEvite? There’s such a radical amount of momentum in favor of multi-purpose devices that I am stunned this got to market. Here’s a list of all the other devices that already do the exact same thing, and more:
- ANY smartphone. Not just the 40 million iPod touch/iPhones, but all the BlackBerries, Windows Mobile devices, and oodles of Symbian, Android, and other phones.
- Many dumbphones. It may be a terrible experience, but even my little Samsung Alias has a Web browser and EVDO connectivity.
- The Kindle.
- The Sony PSP and Nintendo DS.
- All netbooks and laptops.
In fact, the only two categories of devices I can even think of that do NOT have Wikipedia access (the real kind, through the Internet) are most GPS units and the misbegotten Peek. Neither of which are exactly the industries I’d be betting on either.
So how about analysis from another perspective – potential market. By the way, since I managed to anger the entire tablet community with a recent post (all dozen of you! hah, i kid, i kid!!), please note that when I say “no market potential” what I *actually* mean is “extremely slim” but that just sounds silly if you repeat it often enough..
- College Students – nope. They all have or want iPhones and/or laptops. At any time when they’d need such a device, they have another device that will do the same thing. And it’s just not sexy enough to win for materialistic/emotional appeal.
- High school students – nope, see above.
- Travelers – nope. They rent GPS devices and have phones.
- Businessmen – what? come on.
- Mommies – per the wife: “and why do i need that??”
- Reality show contestants, zookeepers, and carnies – hmmm
For my final point on this topic, if i consider the $99 for a WikiReader vs $199 for the “small” iPod Touch, it’s basically a no-brainer. While one could argue the Touch is 2x the price, the reality is those who are dealing with the discretionary income to buy an portable Wikipedia device are barely, if at all, impacted by its price point.
I’m sorry to be such “a hater” on the product, and recognize that there are a bunch of people out there who put a crazy amount of effort in making this happen. I just wish organizations like yours would seek external product marketing counsel before bringing something like this to the market. Someone, somewhere should have been making a go-nogo decision once you had the concept figured out, but before investing the actual energy in finalizing things.