February 22, 2013

Yota Devices and Dream Industries Forge Smartphone eReader Alliance


Back on December 13, 2012 we first wrote about YotaPhone, the world’s first and at this point only dual-screen Android smartphone, which sports a standard LCD screen on one side and a very power-efficient E-Ink display on the other. The phone was born in Russia through Yota Devices. We were quite intrigued with the smartphone back then, which has since had a public showing at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past January. The company will also be making an appearance next week at the 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The YotaPhone is as yet unreleased and isn't expected to become available for sale either in Russia or North America until sometime early in 2H 2013. We will, in the meantime, keep bugging Yota CEO Vlad Martynov to send us a review unit when it becomes available. Our earlier coverage goes through the YotaPhone in depth, and provides the background for the device's genesis. Obviously, one of the things that an E-Ink display will deliver on is extremely high visibility in daylight - even in direct sunlight.

There are two other things to care about - one is that the E-ink display can send smartphone-generated alerts without needing to wake up the power-hungry LCD screen. YotaPhone will stream information directly to the E-ink without requiring the user to wake up the phone.The other is that the display serves as a very handy e-Reader. This is a great thing if you happen to be like us and are accustomed to reading articles and books on a smartphone-sized display. We've been doing so since 2000 or so, when the Compaq iPAQ PDA was the cool device to have and we were running Avantgo on it. We're definitely used to it and it is a reason we want to get our hands on the device.

In the meantime, though Yota has a device that will allow one to do the reading, the company has not had in hand any particular agreements in place to deliver an eBook service, although as an Android device, Kindle service will of course be available. But this week Yota announced that it is changing this situation, and has announced a partnership with another Russian company - Dream Industries, which offers a flat, fee-based digital book service called Bookmate.  

Martynov wants to create a new industry standard in mobile reading experiences. It's a lofty goal but we'll be happy with a service that simply works and allows us to get our hands on the reading material quickly and easily. Bookmate, according to Martynov, is the fastest growing digital reading platform in Russia and offers a monthly flat rate for users to read books either online and offline. Bookmate offers books in various languages globally and currently makes available 200,000 books by 55,000 authors to 500,000 users.Per the partnership agreement, Dream Industries will develop specific applications for YotaPhone’s future Bookmate users. The new applications will target optimizing the reading experience offered by YotaPhone’s E-ink display for both books and magazines. Early versions of these new applications will be showcased by the two companies at Mobile World Congress. If you happen to be there next week, check YotaPhone out.

Martynov notes that, “This partnership between two highly innovative Russian companies will leverage the unique consumer-centric nature of our products. Developers from both companies will collaborate on new applications that bring out the best of our respective products for the benefit of our shared customers.”

Dream Industries was founded in Moscow in 2009 and develops tools for the navigation and discovery of culture, knowledge and education. In addition to Bookmate, the company currently delivers two additional online services - Theory & Practice, a knowledge-sharing platform, and Zvooq, a digital music service.

Simon Dunlop, one of Dream Industries' founders adds, "Through Bookmate, we aim to revolutionize digital reading and this implies utilizing devices which have truly meaningful user experiences at their heart. Partnering with Yota feels like a natural extension of our vision."

If the YotaPhone works as well as it sounds on paper, it should find a market. We look forward to taking it for a test drive when it becomes available.




Edited by Brooke Neuman



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