The $13 txtr beagle eReader is Coming Soon, Will Cost the Same as the Kindle

txtr beagleWhen txtr announced the beagle last October they promised that this smartphone accessory/ ereader would be available at the super-low price of 10 euros.

Much media hay was made about that fact, but now that the beagle is about to hit the market it turns out that txtr’s price for the beagle was a little optimistic.

I have just received an email from txtr that confirms the beagle will indeed be sold in the US in the near future:

We are making a limited number of beagles available in North America. We are making progress with operators as planned.  However, due to pressure from readers, the decision was taken to offer it to a small group of readers who want to buy it now. The price in the US will be $69, including a $10 voucher.

No, you didn’t read it wrong. This device really will cost as much as the $69 Kindle. What’s more, with a little work you can find a B&N Nook Touch for less than the retail price of the txtr beagle.

Uncontrollable laughter aside, the super-low price was never the real price of the beagle; it was the subsidized price. Users were going to be able to get it for 10 euros because txtr’s customers (not the end user but the telecoms) were supposed to subsidize the price. I suppose that the beagle would have been used to entice smartphone users into renewing their contracts.

But now it seems that the telecoms aren’t as interested in the beagle as txtr expected (I don’t believe the middle 2 sentences), so instead this smartphone accessory is going to see at least a limited amount of retail distribution.

txtr-beagle[1]

I have to say that I am not surprised at the lack of interest; when this device launched I lamented the fact that it was deliberately hobbled by design. It is far less capable than your average ereader, and in fact it would be better thought of as a digital picture frame.

The beagle has a 5″ E-ink screen, but instead of storing and displaying ebooks the beagle can only hold 5 folders full of page images, with one folder set aside for each title. The beagle can’t process ebooks on its own, so it needs the txtr Android app to convert an ebook to page images and transfer the page images to the beagle over Bluetooth.

Guess what? That app requires Android 4.0, so anyone who doesn’t have a relatively up to date smartphone or tablet will be out of luck.

With that restriction in mind, I’m not sure why very many people would want the beagle, and apparently many of the commenters on the beagle’s first review (in The Guardian) agree with me. They especially didn’t like the fact it was tied to a smartphone contract.

It’s not clear yet when the beagle will ship, but I can tell you that this ereader did pass through the FCC about a month ago; that cleared the way for the beagle to be legally sold in the US.

Of course, now that it’s not subsidized and we can see that the true price is far higher than txtr initially claimed, I have to say that I’m not sure that txtr will sell all that many beagles. Clearly the Kindle is a better value.

You can find the beagle listed for pre-order here.

 

12 thoughts on “The $13 txtr beagle eReader is Coming Soon, Will Cost the Same as the Kindle

  1. A reckless startup? I pity ones who financed the operation.

    Yet they could’ve done so much more with it.
    Remembering the discussion in beagle story, this is just ridiculous.
    Nothing prevents real time transfers. So it could be a stock ticker, newspaper, travel guide, bus schedule, whatever. Visible in the sunlight.
    Only if to add a $5 more processing power it could be a great second display to your phone (AMOLED outoors, oh yes).

    1. 3M can afford a fiasco or two, never fear.
      They picked txtr up for their library ebook push and that one is going okay, apparently.
      As a matter of fact, the beagle might work best as a library checkout reader: load it up at the library and not even Penguin would fret. Plenty of friction built into the process.

  2. fjtorres is spot on. This is an potentially a viable library lending device should they be able to hit the $10 price point. That’s 3M’s priority, I would assume, over getting into the hands of consumers, as such. And the $69 appears to be “early adopter tax.” Pricing, as wel all know when it comes to anything dealing with digital is often temporary and fungible.

    1. 3M would be a good customer, but that does not mean that 3M was the originator for this design.

      I have been told by folks at txtr that txtr is independent (even though 3M owns a significant percentage). In fall 2011 txtr insisted they were working on their own projects and selling their white-label ebookstore platform to all comers. Obviously one of txtr’s projects is the beagle.

      And that $10 price point is frankly impossible without some kind of subsidy (from a telecom, retailer, etc). The E-ink screen alone costs more than twice that.

      But that doesn’t mean 3M can’t buy the beagle in large quantities, just tht it will cost more. It might even be possible for 3M to subsidize the beagle at that $10 price point when they sell the device to libraries, and I agree that this device would be a good fit. The beagle’s limitations would not be a serious handicap for libraries – not once it was integrated into the 3M Cloud Library.

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