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Would The Entourage Edge Have Survived in a Post-Honeycomb World?

Last week Entourage Systems, the folks behind the Entourage Edge and the PocketEdge, gave up the battle for relevance in the eReader market and shut down their online store. Now the front page carries a sad message that reads, in part:

The enTourage eDGe store has closed as of 05/21/2011. We appreciate all of our customers and want you to enjoy your enTourage eDGe for the foreseeable future. We have shut down our content store but we made sure you still had an option. [download] e-books from the Google ebookstore. ... As for Apps... Go to the Amazon page and download the Android Store App and you will now have access to a lot of Android Apps that Google would never give us access to.

Harsh. The folks at Entourage have complained before about Google's refusal to allow large-screen devices legal access to the Android market. This changed with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but even moreso with the announcement of Honeycomb, the Android version made for tablets. Before this, if you created a tablet using Google mobile OS, you had to either create your own app store or teach your users how to find apps another way.

If you've been following this saga for any amount of time, you know the result. Many pre-Honeycomb tablets failed to entice consumers, partly because they weren't any good, and partly because getting apps required more thought than just tapping the Market icon. Sadly, this is the fate that befel the Entourage Edge.

The Edge was based on a great idea but didn't quite live up to expectations in execution. But looking back, I wondered if it would have succeeded if it had been amongst the first or second generation of Honeycomb tablets.

Apps wouldn't have been a problem, nor content, nor performance -- the Edge tended to be slower than we liked, but Tegra 2 would have solved this. Overall, the device would have likely been thinner and lighter, and the tablet side screen of higher quality. Basically, an Edge that had all the good qualities of an excellent Honeycomb tablet like the Acer Iconia with the addition of a touch-enabled eInk screen could have navigated the eReader/tablet waters better.

Sadly, the Edge never made it past Android 1.6. Even putting aside the possibility of Honeycomb, we're long past the time when anything below 2.0 is acceptable. Some of the Edge's speed issues were addressed in subsequent updates, but overall the device's potential was never fully realized.

It's still a good idea, the hybrid eReader tablet. I hope some company eventually makes it work. Sadly, it looks like Entourage Systems won't be it.