Hanvon was one of the more interesting booth visits at BEA 2010. They had quite a few models on display, including their current 5" ereaders, an 8" ereader, the Touchpad (10' Win7 tablet), and several 6" ereaders that are just coming on the market.
I had the opportunity to interview the Liu Yingjian, the co-founder and chairman of Hanvon.
Hanvon have a goal: to lower the price of their ereader to below $100 this year. (Given that Fry's has repeatedly dropped the price of the N516, I think this is certainly possible.) Their new ereader, the N618, is going to be available in the US in September, with a retail of $269. It's already being sold in China.
Hanvon aren't intimidated by the iPad. They just released a 10” tablet called the Touchpad, and they are currently working on a smaller version with a 7” screen. They also a 9.7” model under development (which should be out by the end of the year).
A dummy model of the N800 was at CES2010, but I didn't get a chance to touch it because they kept it under glass. This one wasn't charged, unfortunately.
I spent the most time with the N618. It's a 6" model with touchscreen, Wifi, and a microSDHC card slot . It was quite pleasnat to use. I don't want to slam Hanvon, but they really seem to be into the whole industrial chic. It's not a problem for me; I like it. But most everyone else is going for a softer more smoothed out design in their ereaders.
Hanvon also had a N620 on display. This is one of their 3G/EVDO/CDMA models, and it's currently on the market in China (partnered with China Mobile). They actually have 4 different models listed on their website (which is why I listed the 3 different technologies). Hanvon are looking to bring it to the US in September, but wouldn't name the wireless partners they were considering (of course). This next picture is of one of the other N620 models.
Hanvon are currently selling over 100k devices each month in China, and they expect this to go up as they open more Hanvon branded retail stores.
I had the opportunity to interview the Liu Yingjian, the co-founder and chairman of Hanvon. Mr. Liu said (through his translator) that they have different plans for the Chinese and foreign markets. Hanvon is working to develop their own ebookstore in China, but outside of Chine they're only planning to sell the hardware, or partner with a local distributor who might run an independent ebookstore.
The main problem Hanvon has in China is publisher stonewalling. Publishers are afraid to put their titles in the Hanvon ebookstore because they believe that they will be copied and shared immediately (Not to different from the US.) Interesting enough, digital collections in schools and libraries don't share this stigma.
The Hanvon ebookstore has around 60k titles now, and this is expected to grow to 100k by August. Their goal is to have 200k by the end of the year. Around 150 of the titles are magazines and newspapers. There are about 500 publishers in China, and Hanvon is trying to sign them one by one.
Editor's Note: This post is based on a booth visit and interview at BEA 2010. It's psoted late becuase a couple weeks ago WordPress was eating posts, and this was one of them.