For the past week or so, blogs like ours here have been buzzing with thoughts about a study done of relative reading speeds between the Kindle, iPad, PC Monitor and Paperback Book. The general consensus seems to have been anything from “See, eReaders are bad!” to “Look, it proves the iPad is better than the Kindle!” This leads me to believe that a large number of people have only a very vague understanding of what this study actually means. Let me explain.
In the actual text of the reading speed study, we are given the details of their methods. The sample size is actually quite small, with only 32 people involved total of whom a mere 24 were included in the final data set. Putting aside that flaw, the data gathered provided no useful information at all besides that reading on anything but a computer monitor is preferred. For those who are talking up the slight difference in reading speed between the iPad and the Kindle, there is a note in the results that “the difference between the two devices was not statistically significant”. For those who do not have any statistics/science background, this means that no difference can be said to exist, with any reasonable accuracy, that stem from anything but random chance.
Basically, if you were hoping for scientific evidence of which device is better, even if you judge “better” in terms of how fast you can read, there’s nothing in this recent study to help you out. Maybe next time.
Sony(NYSE:SNE) has recently announced price cuts on all their eReader devices. The Pocket Edition, their 5″ compact display, is now $150, the Touch Edition has come down to $169, and the Daily Edition, with its 7″ touchscreen display, is now at $299. With all this competition how are Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) and Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) going to cope? Really well.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Sony Reader line. My first eReader was a PRS-500 and I still have it and my PRS-505. Up until the Kindle 2 came out, they were by far the best product on the market in my opinion. Lately, however, they’ve just failed to stand out. I still love the interface and the menu system, but it isn’t significantly better than anybody else’s. I still find the Sony devices to be the most durable-feeling of the bunch as well. The reading experience in the recent offerings, however, has suffered. The touch-screen on the two higher-end models blurs the text, drains the battery, and has a tendency to smudge with frequent use. The screen on the Pocket Edition is great, but the screen is smaller than anything else on the market at the same price. The only one of the bunch to have any sort of wireless connectivity is the Daily Edition with its 3G coverage, but that’s not really worthy of a $300 investment anymore on its own.
Basically, I’d be really surprised if these cuts have any significant bearing on their market share at this point. They’re going to either have to dig deeper in terms of discounts or come up with some stunning hardware improvements to impress, these days.