A few months ago, I wrote a piece on how Google was building its content network for a potential show-down with Amazon over the e-book market supremacy. There was never a question that Google would not come up with its own hardware in this market. But a partnership with a Kindle competitor was always on the cards. Sony and Google seem to have finally formed that partnership that instantly makes Sony Reader more attractive and a more worthy challenger to Amazon Kindle.
The agreement between Google and Sony makes Sony’s ebook store the largest store around. Sony Reader owners will now have access to 600,000+ titles whereas Kindle owners can find only 240,000 titles in Kindle store. It’s no surprise to see Sony executives jumping in joy as a result of this agreement. Here is what one Sony official had to say:
We have focused our efforts on offering an open platform and making it easy to find as much content as possible, and our partnership with Google is another step in that direction
While this move makes Sony Reader a very attractive option, there are still many issues with the hardware that Sony needs to solve to properly challenge Kindle. Google is a wild card in this market. It has successfully scanned over 7 million books since 2004 (but can only offer the ones with expired copyrights). And Google is not stopping there. It has the exact same goal as Jeff Bezos – to digitize all books around the world. Let’s just say Google is much closer to that goal than Amazon. That makes Google a potential king maker in the e-book market.
What we don’t know about this agreement is whether it has an exclusivity option. Amazon can always partner up with Google (though it may have to provide support for ePub) or it can continue expanding its digital library to keep all the profits to itself. Either way, this new agreement has just leveled the playing field a bit in the e-book market. Sony Reader is no Kindle beater just yet, but at least you have lots of books to read on it. That’s a big step in the right direction.