You got to feel for Sony. It used to be the top player in the e-book market, but since the emergence of Kindle, Sony has been struggling to keep up with Amazon. The latest move by Amazon has put Sony in a bind. Amazon is trying to go after college students with its bigger, better Kindle DX device and by providing support for PDF, Amazon has sent a stern warning to Sony and other players in the e-book market that they will need something special to challenge Kindle.
Sony has been making its own moves to take some of Kindle’s momentum away, but so far Kindle has been unstoppable. Sony readers are great gadgets, but they are simply inferior products to Amazon Kindle. One of the biggest selling points for Sony e-book readers were their support for PDF and ePub. Amazon has taken a big swing at that by finally adding native support for PDF documents. Things certainly don’t look good for Sony.
The time is now for Sony to make a move or fold its hand. Sony can no longer compete with Amazon with inferior devices. Sony’s strategy of charging $350 for its e-book reader simply doesn’t make sense at this point. In essence, Sony has conceded feature leadership to Amazon while it hasn’t make a big move to gain price leadership in this market. And if you think Amazon will keep charging $360 for Kindle 2.0, think again. What happens to Sony reader when Amazon drops its price by another $50?
All is not lost for Sony. The company has the know-how and a track record for innovation throughout the years it’s been in business. It also has been working on partnership deals with Verizon and Google. For Sony to truly challenge Amazon in the e-book market, it needs to come up with a device that addresses issues that Amazon Kindle doesn’t. For starters, Sony should support even more file formats on its next generation readers. It should also try to work on higher quality screens, and a customer-centric design to make reading more convenient for its customers.
Ultimately, Sony has to address the issues of content and connectivity if it wants to put up a challenge against Amazon in the e-book market. That’s not going to be easy, but not something Sony can’t overcome with partnerships and alliances. Things don’t certainly look rosy for Sony here. On the bright side, Sony does not have to start from scratch. The big question for Sony is whether it’s worth it to stick around and go head to head with Amazon in the e-book market.
Your take: what would you do if you were a Sony executive, trying to gain the upper-hand against Amazon in the e-book market?
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