Despite its year advantage in the ebook reader market, Sony hasn’t much luck against Amazon’s Kindle. To counter, Sony first announced it will be dropping the price of the next versions of the Sony Reader, and one will even include wireless so a computer won’t be needed to get new books. This isn’t enough to take down Amazon, however. Cheaper doesn’t always equal better sales, just look at the iPod compared to most other media players.
Sony’s next plan is to support to industry-created ePub format, which is becoming the industry standard. Sony will be switching from selling its proprietary ebook format to the open standard. That way, not only will those who own Sony Readers benefit from Sony’s ebook store, those with other devices like Plastic Logic’s upcoming eReader, and smartphones with ebook reader software, will be able to as well. With the Sony Reader supporting ePub, owners will be able to buy ebooks from other stores as well, including Fictionwise, Barnes & Noble, and the free Project Gutenberg.
While Sony being more open with the Reader is a great idea, how well it will be able to unseat the Kindle is questionable. Amazon offers the store through every Kindle, which can make books almost impulse buys. Sony requires more thought for a purchase as you must go to a computer, buy, download and transfer the files. In addition to that, we’ve seen that while those involved in the tech industry care about having open standards, the average consumer doesn’t seem to care as much. The iPod may not have sold as many if people cared enough about DRM when the iTunes Store was covered in it (still is, for apps and movies, at least). The Kindle having DRM and proprietary files means nothing compared to its ease-of-use for most people.
Read [NY Times]