Plastic Logic (Finally) Kills Que Reader

Plastic Logic has been talking about the launch of its Que e-Reader for almost two years, but no more. The company has officially killed the Que without shipping a single unit. The Que was supposed to be the Cadillac of e-book readers, with an E Ink screen larger than most readers and a focus on business users. Unfortunately, a $649 reader has no way to compete with readers focused at consumers, such as the $139 Kindle (s amzn).

The Plastic Logic situation demonstrates what can happen when a new product segment grows quickly. What seemed to be a solid entry to the nascent e-reader market was obsolete before it could ship. The company believed a high-end product like the Que would be well-received, and seeing competing products rapidly dropping in price no doubt contributed to several shipping delays.

The final straw in the Que’s back was the successful launch of the iPad (s aapl) with its iBooks app. The iPad is a full mobile computer with e-book reading capability, yet is significantly cheaper than the Que, which is just a reader. Plastic Logic realized it could never compete in functionality, and probably not even price.

Plastic Logic is planning a “2nd generation” reader device, although without actually shipping the original Que the description isn’t quite accurate. In the press release, company CEO Richard Archuleta lays out the plan for the new ProReader:

“We plan to take the necessary time needed to re-enter the market as we refocus, redesign and retool for our next generation ProReader product. We continue to perfect our core plastic electronic technology and manufacturing processes that are central to our product’s unique value proposition.”

It’s hard to re-enter a market you haven’t really been in, and it remains to be seen how patient Plastic Logic’s investors will be while bringing the ProReader to this market that is highly consumer oriented. The company is not divulging particulars about the new device, so we’ll have to wait and see what chance it might have.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Irrational Exuberance Over E-Books?