Competition on E-Book Reader Market Heats Up

Sony Wants Huge Slice of E-Book Reader Market, Analysts Claim

by Anton Shilov
09/04/2009 | 11:13 PM

Sony Corp. has lost the war for portable digital media players market to Apple, but the company sees huge opportunities in the market of e-book readers. No matter what some say, people continue to read books and news-papers and getting that content to them digitally is an opportunity to earn huge revenues.


In early August Sony Corp. announced that it will add two e-books to its PRS e-reader lineup. The PRS-300 and PRS-600 will be priced at $199 and $299, respectively, and will be available at retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart. In late August Sony announced another new addition to its e-reader lineup: the Sony Reader Daily Edition, which will be priced at $399, offer 3G connectivity through AT&T, have a touchscreen, and open up a wider range of free and paid-for e-book content to its users.

The aggressive pricing for the low-end e-readers, and the introduction of a wireless e-reader, is clearly Sony’s attempt to encroach on the lead Amazon currently holds in the e-book market with its Kindle lineup. Amazon and cellular operator Sprint have partnered to allow all Kindle users to wirelessly access digital e-book content via the Sprint EVDO network. There is no fee to the user, and a PC is not required. Content is downloaded directly to the Kindle; and this seamless content-to-hardware delivery experience has been a major driver of Amazon’s success in the e-book market. In order to become as popular as Google, Sony e-book readers have to offer similar services, believes In-Stat market research firm.

“Until Sony announced its wireless e-reader, the company remained at a distinct disadvantage to Amazon. But now Sony can not only compete with Amazon more directly, but can also address a wider range of consumers than Amazon since it offers more affordable e-reader models to consumers who may not want wireless connectivity,” says Stephanie Ethier, In-Stat analyst.

Overall, the e-reader market continues to heat up as Amazon updates its Kindle lineup and as Sony expands its offerings. Worldwide e-reader shipments are expected to reach 28.6 million units in 2013, up from 924 thousand in 2008. Market drivers include new entrants to market, international expansion of e-book availability, anticipated price declines, and the electronic distribution of newspapers.

In short, the e-book reader market is heating up. Apart from Amazon and Sony, Taiwan-based computer components makers Asustek Computer, MicroStar International (MSI), BenQ and Qisda want to roll-out their e-readers.