Sony: no bells and whistles for eBook readers

Sony’s digital eReaders should focus on the printed word and making reading “comfortable,” rather than becoming multimedia machines, according to the company’s boss.

Sony: no bells and whistles for eBook readers

Sony chief executive Sir Howard Stringer admits there is a lot of “energy” behind Amazon’s Kindle, which is seen as the leader in a burgeoning market for portable reading devices.

And as speculation grows that Apple will introduce a tablet-style computer that could also address the eReader market, Sony could differentiate itself by adding more powerful chips, displays and media features to the pocket-sized readers.

But Stringer says that, given the nascence of the market, it is smarter to wait and see how consumer warm to the current devices. “The consumer will tell us if this format is comfortable and helpful and convenient and all those things before you start ploughing on a thousand apps,” or making the “Vaio Reader” Stringer claims.

In fact, Stringer is hoping the simplicity of the Sony Reader will prove more attractive than its feature-packed rivals. “I think there is plenty of audience to go around,” he claims. “I think it will be interesting to see if this is the reader of choice, particularly for older audiences who don’t need a million other applications. There is a whole generation that may learn to love this. We might as well let them find out.”

Sony, and Barnes & Noble are in a heated fight over who will emerge with the best-selling electronic reading device, each beefing up their devices with exclusive content or high-tech features.

Sony claims sales of its eReaders are “phenomenal,” but refuses to disclose any figures. Executives also say they don’t know how sales stack up against the Kindle.

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