The iPad is not even out yet, but many e-reader makers are feeling uneasy about the iPad effect already. We all know that Apple does not make the very best gadgets in each market that it enters in. The iPhone is not the best phone on the market if you just look at its features. There are better phones out there. But the company can always count on its sophisticated marketing machine to sell anything. That’s why companies such as Palm can’t even compete with Apple.
e-book reader makers such as Amazon and Sony understand that the iPad will grab a part of their hardware business. The iPad may not be an e-reader, but Apple has done a brilliant job make the device look like a must have gadget. Considering that most major e-reader apps are going to be available on the iPad gives the device a better chance to succeed. But if you thought e-reader makers are going to abandon their hardware business, you may want to think again.
Sony, which is expected to struggle mightily to cope with the iPad effect, is lowering its price on its pocket e-book reader to test the markets ahead of time. Till April 3rd, which happens to be the shipping date for the iPad, Sony is offering a $30 discount on Sony Pocket Reader. While it’s tough to see this move having too much success, price conscious e-reader fans may find some value in Sony’s offering.
Fortunately for e-book fans, e-reader prices will most definitely fall in the near future. Amazon and B&N are not going to abandon their hardware business just now. They also do not want to go head to head with Apple iPad as the device has some distinct advantages over anything those companies can come up with. Amazon is not going to be able to offer thousands of Kindle apps to its customers in just a matter of few months. Neither Kindle nor Nook are great for web browsing either.
I have talked about the idea of Amazon offering Kindle for free or close to that. That could technically be possible if the company adopts the right subscription plan. The e-reader market segmentation means that e-reader manufacturers will need to pick and choose who they are going after. The high-end segment of this market will belong to Apple and other tablet makers. Amazon and B&N can still have success if they focus on the other segments of the market. For that to happen, e-reader prices need to come down. Will we get a $50 Kindle anytime soon? Maybe not this year. But I have a hunch a few e-reader price cuts will come our way in the next few weeks.