• Table of contents

    • [+]Preliminaries (3)
    • [+]Introduction (4)
    • [—]Latin America (13)
    • [+]Sub-Saharan Africa (9)
    • [+]Arab World (11)
    • [+]Russia (11)
    • [+]India (11)
    • [+]China (9)
    • [+]Conclusions (6)
    • [+]Appendix (1)

Latin America

Devices and applications

So far, e-readers have not reached anything like a mass market, due to various factors. The most important one is without doubt the high price of these devices at the destination point, in the case of imported ones: in Argentina or Colombia, a Kindle bought for 139 dollars through Amazon may end up costing more than double that amount, owing to shipping and customs charges. On the other hand, a device like the Papyre[1] is sold in Buenos Aires at a price that varies between 300 and 600 dollars, depending on the model; if we bear in mind that the average Argentine salary is within this same range,[2] we might conclude that at current prices, it is unlikely that imported e-readers will ever become popular.

Other gadgets like the Apple iPad are for the moment so prohibitively expensive that they end up being considered luxury products intended more for the entertainment of the well-to-do (whose patterns of consumption are comparable to those of the US or Europe), than for use by the wider public. Nevertheless, some entrepreneurs such as Tapps (Brazil), Moebius (Argentina) and The Crab Group (Mexico) have already begun to develop content created for this model of tablet. The e-book Rapunzel was designed by Tapps as an iPad application in which readers can help prevent the protagonist of the story from falling from a tower, among other interactive possibilities. Moebius, for its part, is a comics label created in 2008, which in conjunction with the applications company Moosgo has produced an iPad version of Don Quixote. Lastly, the company The Crab Group has developed various iBooks, including most notably El manuscrito Borges, by Alejandro Vaccaro[3] and La tregua (The Truce), by Mario Benedetti.[4]

Even if, as we explained, the Apple device is currently a luxury product in Latin America, at least it can be used as an outward-looking commercial platform, as Cristián Parodi, Moosgo’s director, points out:

The digital distribution of content using these devices enables access to other markets that were previously out of reach due to high costs and existing regulations. Now, thanks to iTunes and other online platforms, it is possible to produce content in Argentina and sell them all over the world.[5]

In addition to the imported devices, there are already others designed in Latin America, which may currently end up being more expensive than the foreign ones, because of the lack of economies of scale and because many of the electronic components also come from abroad. We will have to see what happens in the future if internal demand greatly increases and e-readers begin to be manufactured entirely in situ. Brazil is the clear protagonist in this field also. The Alfa device, created by the technological group Positivo,[6] is equipped with WiFi, touch screen, 2GB of memory and can be bought from Livraria Cultura for about 480 dollars. Also, the Leitor D, made by the company Mix, was launched in mid 2010; it comes with an analogue keyboard and can be obtained through a dedicated webpage, at a cost of 410 dollars. Mix, a company specializing in software, has developed numerous educational applications that will be available in the next version of the device.[7]

  1. Produced by Grammata, a Spanish company.
  2. According to data from the consulting firm Marco Marketing, the average salary in Argentina is 483 dollars. Cf. Crettaz, José: “Hacen falta 13,4 sueldos promedio para alcanzar el ‘hogar digital’”, La Nación, 6th December, 2010.
  3. Cf. http://www.itunes.com/apps/elmanuscritoborges.
  4. Cf. http://www.itunes.com/apps/latregua.
  5. Cf. “Publican el Quijote en versión comic para iPad”, Ñ, 9th April, 2010.
  6. This is the largest producer of computers in Brazil. In the third trimester of 2010 alone its turnover was 400 million dollars and it has already begun its expansion into Argentina and Uruguay. Cf. “Positivo Informatico reports EBITDA of R$142.0 million in 9M10, 27.7% up year-on-year”, Positivo Informatica Press Release, 11th November, 2010.
  7. Cf. “Mix Leitor -d”.

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