Sony loses the plot with e-readers

Analysts are scratching their heads in wonder at Sony for all the wrong reasons.

For a while Sony was a viable force in the e-reader market.  Not only did its gear use epaper, which is far superior to read a book on than a LCD screen, but it was was the cheapest on the market.

However the latest batch of e-readers show how Sony ignores what the competition is doing to its grave peril.

Yesterday Sony updated each of its three e-readers and made them jolly good. The Reader Pocket Edition has a 5-inch screen and weighs less than many of its competitors. The Reader Touch Edition, has a 6-inch screen and the Reader Daily Edition is 7 inches.

Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division said that the motivation behind the release was to get an e-reader that felt like a book, so you just forget that you have a device in your hand.

It also used an improved E Ink Pearl display so text is now visible in direct sunlight. Sony’s new Readers range from $179 to $299.

This would have been wonderful two years ago. However it seems that Sony has not noticed what has been going on in the e-reader market over the last year.

The Kindle, Kobo, and Libre have fallen in price dramatically.  You can pick a Kindle up for $139 and a Libre for $100.

Haber’s response is that “people step up and buy features they want and price is less significant.”

Tell that to Amazon and Borders who suddenly can’t supply enough e-readers after dropping the price.  

We have seen this inability to see what is going on in the market before in Sony and it appears to be a corporate psychological flaw.  Sony had a good product in the PS3 but falled to notice that rivals were selling their boxes much cheaper.  It banged on how much better its machine was while rivals just kept cutting the price.  It was not until Sony woke up and cut its prices that it started making money.

Sony appears to be trying to add some interesting features to its ebook products.  One includes borrowing books from public libraries and an upcoming partnership with Goodreads that will add reviews.

Sony is also expanding availability internationally, including to Italy, Spain, Australia, China and Japan and the new readers include 10 translation dictionaries in addition to two English ones.