The iRiver Story HD remains one of the companies brightest success stories and became their first e-reader to gain mass market appeal. When the device first came out the South Korean company forged a relationship with retail chain Target for distribution. This marked the first time the company had a solid distribution chain in the USA and hoped their fortunes would change. Evidently the e-reader did not sell well and today is officially discontinued.
The iRiver HD when it first was released in 2011 had two things really going for it that separated it from the dirge of other readers on the market. It was the first e-reader in the world to tap into the Google Books ecosystem. This allowed users to download millions of free and paid books. The drawback from this partnership was when Google Books got intergrated into the Google Play platform. This prevented the Story HD from downloading anything because it did not update the firmware in order to tap into the ebook content system. It also has the best resolution out of all the digital readers currently on the market. In terms of resolution the Kindle Touch features has 600×800, while the iRiver has 1024×768. Comic books, graphic novels and pictures look amazing on the iRiver Story HD and many people purchased the device for this feature.
In the current market the iRiver simply could not compete against Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Amazon. It had a turbulent pricing strategy that changed every few months. When it first came out it retailed for $149.99 and then a few months later was reduced to $129.99. When the holiday season came around Target lowered the price to $99.99 to compete against the Kindle 4. When 2012 rolled around it was slashed again to $49.99.
Target locations all over the USA have confirmed with us today that the iRiver Story HD is officially discontinued. The company has removed all vestiges of the e-reader from their websites and many stores are completely out of stock. Management told us that they had no plans to buy further units because they were not available.
What is next for iRiver? The company was showing off a new e-reader very privately at CES this year and said by the summer they should be releasing an updated model.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.