WH Smith and Samsung cosy up for Kindle 3 challenger

Amazon’s Kindle has huge support thanks to all the publishers that work through Amazon as a retailer, and the Barnes and Noble e-reader works on a similar model. As Kindle 3 is about to launch in the UK, Samsung has decided to go toe-to-toe but is doing itself no favours on the street cred front by teaming up with WH Smith.

Its contender is called the S60 and will launch just as the Kindle 3 hits shelves. It’s got a six inch screen with 600 x 800 resolution and weighs just 315 grams. Internal memory hits 2GB of space. Apparently this can be expanded using an SD card, reports Pocket Lint

Connectivity doesn’t sound great for the price you’ll have to pay – the pre-order page says it’s going to be available for £199. But it doesn’t have 3G, just WiFi, so to go online when you’re out and about you’ll be forced to head into a Starbucks. It’s more expensive than the WiFi only Kindle 3, too.

It seems a bizarre move that Samsung’s decided to team up with Smith’s of all the retailers. It’s known as a plaice to go at Airports to pick up dodgy bargain bin Katie Price biographies, while it must have an extensive network of books to choose from we would be surprised if its selection would be able to come anywhere close to Amazon’s. WH Smith has an image problem. It looks like it’s permanently frozen in the eighties – we wouldn’t be surprised if fax is the main mode of communication at WH Smith HQ.

When going up against all the sleek tablets and e-readers on the market, we wonder what drew Samsung to WH Smith. Was it looking for an exclusive retailer deal with access to publishers, and WH Smith is the only one that bit the bait? Or was it the only one left? Ebooks at Smiths are apparently half price. But it should look carefully at its chequered history and especially its brand if this joint venture is going to be successful, and so should Samsung. 

WH Smith has had a rocky financial road. It’s one of the few survivors of the high street chain book selling cull after Borders shut down, probably because it also sells cans of coke, magazines, sweeties and Heat. With the recent report on how more and more consumers not just in the UK but globally looking online to purchase their kit, is it a move by WH Smith to modernise, or is it playing catch up on something it hasn’t got much of a clue on? Anecdotally, we reckon if our mates at TechEye want to buy a book online, we don’t think Smiths is the first place that comes to mind.

The deal could go two ways: Samsung manages a surprise victory with its ebook reader and Smith’s rakes it in, or the exact opposite.