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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Amazon's Kindle has some competition from Sony

It was bound to happen. After the popular online book retailer Amazon introduced their ebook reader, the Kindle, it was just a matter of time before another manufacturer attempted to jump on the bandwagon of ebook readers. Well, Sony announced two new readers today, the Reader Pocket Edition and the Reader Touch Edition. Sony plans to have the devices out at the end of the month and with a pricing structure that puts it at the same price or just below the Kindle.

The Pocket Edition has a five-inch display, will be available is three colours for the moment, including navy blue, rose and silver, and is sized to fit in a jacket pocket or a purse. It will store about 350 standard eBooks and will last about two weeks on a single charge, if we are to believe Sony's claims.

The Touch Edition is a little bit larger, with a six-inch display that you can control, as the name indicates with touch, using either your finger, a stylus or the virtual keyboard. The device will also includes a built-in Oxford American English Dictionary as well as Memory Card and SD card slots, for additional storage space. Sony has indicated that both models make use of an E Ink Vizplex electronic paper display, that according to Sony representatives, "mimics the look of ink on paper.

The software provided will be compatible with both PCs and Apple platforms and allow users to read documents in several formats, including PDF, Word, BBeB and other text files. Sony has also created an eBook Store online, and new releases and New York Times bestseller titles will be priced at $9.99. The readers will also have access to the 1 million free public domain books that Google has currently digitized. What remains to be seen is Sony's response to the public pressure against their draconian DRM application.

It will be interesting to see what Amazon's response is to Sony's step into this market. I can only anticipate price reductions on current Kindle models, and perhaps some hardware revisions in the near future? It remains to be seen.

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