Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sony to upgrade e-readers, hoping to catch Kindle, Nook

Sony plans to introduce a line of upgraded digital book readers in the U.S. as early as next month to challenge Kindle maker
The current Sony Reader, now priced from $180 to $300, will probably be offered with hardware and
software improvements in August, Phil Lubell, vice president of digital reading at Sony Electronics, said Wednesday.
The new products will be introduced to U.S. consumers before Sony's first tablet-computer models, which are scheduled to go on sale later this year. The Tokyo-based company, whose readers trail behind the Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook, plans to continue its push to sell dedicated digital readers because they are cheaper than tablets, Lubell said.
"Sony appears to be struggling to expand its e-reader business as fast as it had originally planned," said Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Financial Group in Tokyo.
The number of Americans who own an electronic reader such as Kindle doubled in the six months to May as college graduates and adults in the highest income category choose the devices over tablet computers, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Twelve percent of those surveyed owned an e-reader in May, up from 6 percent in November 2010, while 8 percent owned tablets in May, up from 5 percent six months earlier.
The reason for the faster adoption of e-readers may be that they are often less expensive than tablets, with the Kindle starting at $114, compared with the iPad 2's $499.
"We think there will still be a market for dedicated readers as long as tablets remain in the $500 price range," Lubell said.
Sony also plans to incorporate its online book store and e-book technology into its two tablet-computer models later this year as part of a group of Sony multimedia applications, Lubell said.

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