Plastic Logic delays Que e-reader indefinitely

With many e-readers priced below the $200 barrier, perhaps there’s just no room for Plastic Logic’s pricey Que ProReader.

The company announced Friday that it is delaying the Que, which was supposed to ship on June 24, but didn’t offer a detailed explanation. The Que’s launch was pushed back from April before that.

In addition to annoucing the delay, Plastic Logic has also cancelled and refunded all pre-orders, Engadget reports. The company says it still plans to ship the product and invited buyers to sign up for e-mail updates.

Plastic’s Logic’s Que was certainly an anomaly in the e-reader market, with an 8.5-by-11-inch screen that dwarfed all other e-readers on the market. Its price — $650 for 4 GB of storage and Wi-Fi, and $800 for 8 GB, 3G and Wi-Fi — also stood far above the competition. By comparison, Amazon’s Kindle DX, measuring 10.5-by-7 inches, sells for $489.

Even in January, when those details were announced, the Que seemed like a long-shot, pitched to deep-pocketed business folks who wanted to read documents, spreadsheets, newspapers and magazines. The device could also sync with Microsoft Outlook to check e-mail.

But the e-reader and tablet market has only become more hostile since then. The most basic iPad only costs $500, and though it has a smaller screen, it can perform all the Que’s features and more. Separately, Barnes & Noble and Amazon are locked in a price war on their respective Nook and Kindle e-readers, both now under $200. Online bookseller Kobo has also targeted the budget e-reader market with its own device.

In covering the Kindle price cut, I mentioned that it’ll be harder for all other e-readers to differentiate themselves from the big two, and now we’re seeing more evidence of that. If Plastic Logic has any shot with the Que, it’ll have to add some knockout features or get creative with pricing — maybe something subsidized by magazine or newspaper subscriptions. But the longer Plastic Logic waits, the harder it’ll be to catch up with the competition, who are trying to do the same thing.