When Spring Design's Alex ebook reader first arrived on the scene, it made waves for looking very similar to Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Spring Design even took the bookseller to court over that resemblance. Now, with an official release of April 14th set in stone and being available for pre-order, one would think that the Alex reader's stiffest competition would be its old nemesis, the Nook. Heck, it's even going to show up at Borders and Books-A-Million in June, laying down the gauntlet with the Nook.
But is the Nook really what Alex needs to worry about?
Compared to the Nook, the Alex ereader is faster, has a larger screen, access to both Google books and, when it opens, Borders' ebook store, and runs a newer version of Android which allows it to read Android packages — and as such stretch more app-like functionality than the Nook is capable of. Compared to the Nook, the Alex is a pretty competitive package.
Compared to the iPad, though? Apple's tablet has begun taking preorders, as well, and for a price that's not too far above what Spring Designs is asking. While Android 1.5 Cupcake will make the Alex more competitive against tablets than the Nook, the iPad is built from the ground up to provide a casual computing experience, and that includes e-reading.
It'll be interesting to see if ereaders can survive through the weight of support from booksellers, who could in theory offer a more robust ebook package than Apple, or if the multi-functionality of tablets will sink the more narrowly focused ereaders.