There is a major article in today’s Financial Times by John Gapper on how Sony lost the battle of the e-book, Gapper reckons that Sony has been trounced for two main reasons:
First, the Kindle links to Amazon’s online store and there are now 145,000 titles available to download. As well as books, readers can subscribe to daily newspapers and even blogs, which makes the Kindle a more useful device in everyday life.
Second, Amazon came up with a clever way of linking the Kindle to its content. Each Kindle is connected to a 3G mobile network, so books and newspapers can be downloaded within a minute. If you subscribe to The New York Times, for example, it arrives wirelessly in the night, ready to read on the morning commute.
This is a kind of replay of the battle that Sony lost to Apple over the iPhone. The Sony device was outsmarted by a newcomer who introduced much better connectivity. It is a bit odd, from a European standpoint to see the Sony system, shortly to be launched in the UK, being written off in favour of the Kindle that has no plans for ex-US deployment. But Gapper may well be right. The Kindle may have vanquished the Sony system already.
But it doesnt follow that the Kindle will be a big-time winner. The Kindle also looks to be vulnerable and may be outflanked by a device with better connectivity. That device is the iPhone. If the iPhone beats the Kindle as a reading device, it will be partly because it supports colour, but also because it is actually a more open device than the Kindle, which is still pretty much an Amazon walled garden.
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