Google [signaled its intent to enter e-book retailing](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/technology/internet/01google.html?_r=1) at the annual BookExpo convention in New York over the weekend. Google will launch a program by end of 2009 that would enable publishers to sell e-book direct to consumers through Google.
Google’s move takes on Amazon Kindle in the growing e-book marketplace. Google will allow publishers to set the selling price, unlike Kindle’s aggressive pricing strategy by Amazon. Most of Kindle edition of latest best sellers are selling for $9.99, far less than the typical $26 for hardcover version.
Google’s e-book offering will allow consumers to read books on any device with Internet access, including mobile phones. And an offline mode will allow consumers to read cached versions of the e-book when Internet is not available.
Increasingly, Google is looking to charging for content as revenue stream. Google has said before it might eventually charge for premium content on YouTube.
Apple is rumored to be preparing a Kindle like reader and e-book marketplace. Many see e-book as the most likely market segment for Apple as it is a simple extension for Apple to the iTunes ecosystems. But we predict Apple is not launching its e-book products anytime soon.
An e-book marketplace might not even be in Apple’s drawing board. Apple does not like book, Steve Jobs once said “the fact is that people don’t read anymore…”. Apple is lukewarm in building an electronic book marketplace, the audiobooks in iTunes is licensed from Audible, a company acquired by Amazon.com in 2008.
With smartphone competition heating up, Apple is best focus on its iPhone business at the moment. A brand new hardware category will only draw the attention thin. Instead of launching a dedicated e-book reader hardware like the Kindle, we predict Apple will launch a general purpose OS X tablet computer. A tablet touch computer that promotes the technologies in Snow Leopard, that can be double up as capable e-book reader. Who knows, we might see Google launching their e-book marketplace together with Apple’s new tablet.