John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Que? That’s Spanish for “Where the Hell Is My E-Reader,” Right?

Customers who pre-ordered Plastic Logic’s Que ProReader expecting delivery June 24 received something else instead: An order-cancellation notice.

“We’ve been working hard to bring the world’s first product based on plastic electronics technology to market–and have decided that delaying the device a bit longer will result in a better product for you,” Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta said in a message to pre-order customers. “With that in mind, we need to let you know that since your unit will not ship on June 24 as planned, our automated ordering system has automatically cancelled your order.”

Archuleta didn’t specify a new ship date, which was probably wise since the Que has now missed two of them. Nor did he offer any detail on the company’s rationale for further delaying the product.

A spokesperson for Plastic Logic, however, insists the company is simply refining it. “The market for e-readers is changing rapidly, and they want to make sure that the product they deliver is the right one for their target business customers,” she said. “They continue to refine the product, technology and features.”

Let’s hope they continue to refine the price as well. At $650 and $800, the Que seemed a bit pricey for a standalone e-reader, even one targeted at enterprise. Now, with Apple’s (AAPL) iPad redefining user expectations for multipurpose e-readers and Amazon (AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (BKS) dropping prices on the Kindle and Nook to well below $200, Plastic Logic seems to be pricing itself out of a market it hasn’t even managed to enter yet.

Below, Plastic Logic shows off a Que prototype at D7.

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What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard.

— Mark Pagel, fellow of the Royal Society and professor of evolutionary biology, in conversation with