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Longtime readers might remember that I was really looking forward to Foxit’s eSlick ebook reader since my biggest requirement for those devices was excellent PDF support. And if any company besides Adobe has an expertise with PDF software, it’s Foxit. In fact I had a hands-on with the eSlick a couple of years ago at CES and the device showed a lot of promise, but unfortunately as of this morning it’s become another victim of the recent ebook reader price wars. Well, unofficially at least.

In a press release this morning Foxit announced that they were focusing their efforts on licensing their PDF and ePub software and technology to other hardware manufacturers, and were ceasing development of the eSlick to ensure they aren’t competing with their partners:

Converging on its core business strength, Foxit Corporation, a leader in PDF software solutions, today announced that it will license its industry-leading PDF and ePub technology to key players in the eBook market to help enhance digital rights management, content management, content distribution and viewing technology in the space. The company will cease development of the eSlick™ Reader, its own electronic reading device, to focus on providing platform-independent PDF technology and multi-device support to leading eBook providers.

“We have been licensing our PDF and ePub technology to a number of eBook vendors. Our decision to discontinue eSlick is to eliminate the possibility of competing with our partners,” said Erik Bryant, Assistant Vice President Sales, Foxit Corporation. “We’re looking forward to making the most impact possible on the growing eBook market by providing our proven, top-of-the-line PDF software technology as an industry standard to the principal providers of electronic reading devices.”

However, even though the eSlick’s $199 price tag at one point made it one of the most affordable e-ink display devices, the release of the $149 Kobo (which is based on the same hardware platform) and Amazon’s recent announcement of budget-friendly versions of the Kindle have made that market extremely competitive. Not to mention the fact that the ebook reader market is also slowly being eaten into by Apple’s iPad and iBooks store. So while it’s not that surprising to see the eSlick go at such a young age, it does make me a bit misty eyed.

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