Today(Mar27th) brought about the announcement of Sony’s(NYSE:SNE) plans to make a large international push in eReader device sales, bringing their products to nearly twice as many countries as currently enjoy them. The current list of the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland will be expanded to include Japan, China, Australia, Italy, Spain, and probably others. While in recent years we haven’t seen anything groundbreaking from Sony in terms of eReaders, they are really the ones that started the craze in the US with their PRS series. The current hardware offerings are easily as functional and easy to read as anything from their competition, they just lack a lot of the bells and whistles that more famous lines like the Kindle bring to the table.
What Sony really has going for them in this initiative is the localization angle. Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) may have recently begun bringing international authors to the english-speaking arena, but Sony will be bringing countries around the world works in their native languages from local authors through partnerships with affiliated bookstores. This should have a strong appeal for potential buyers, given the overwhelming weight, at present, on the availability of books in the English language above all others. Maybe this will be what brings the Sony Reader back into more equal footing with the Kindle and nook?
In welcome move, Amazon has decided to open up the Kindle platform to authors who are situated outside the US. So now authors from all over the world can sell their works on the various Kindles. This ensures a win-win situation for everyone involved — Amazon, Kindle users and the authors/publishers.
A lot of good literature gets published outside in the US. In fact, if you look at popular fiction genres, you will see that many of the world best sellers come from outside the US. I mention works of fiction mainly because those are the ones that sell the most. And with those facts in mind, it is easy to see why this would benefit Amazon. Amazon has really ushered the era of eBooks by making the Kindle and tying it up with the Whispernet platform. With this new move, they ensure that there is a steady supply of fresh material that is much greater in number than their current competitors. The great diversity that the Kindle Store will gain as a result of this will be really good for Amazon’s business.
For the average user, this means more choices and that is always a good thing. Plus it will also mean that you can finally carry your favorite non-US author on your Kindle, in addition to having the printed editions. With better choices and more diversity, you will probably end up buying even more books on your Kindle and less from physical bookstores. And that is exactly what Amazon wants.
As for the Authors, this basically means a new market has opened up to them. Book sales have been down for a long time now and they have been getting worse. But eBooks are gaining momentum by keeping the print media relevant. So many of them will undoubtedly see the great opportunity that it is for them and jump right in.
The Kindle 2 International continues on its path to global coverage, this time reaching Canada. The International Kindle, with its free global roaming wireless connection has attracted a lot of international buyers and Canada was one of the many countries where the launch of the device is highly anticipated.
Amazon declared earlier last week that Canada is now amongst the countries that they officially ship to. While Amazon’s delay to support a nation so close to the US has raised a few eyebrows, it has to be understood that international trade laws can be pretty stringent. So finalizing business deals sometimes takes an unnaturally long time, which is lamentable but unavoidable in certain situations.
Now the wait is finally over for Canadians and Kindles have already started being shipped up North. If there was ever an eBook reader that a large number of international customers wanted, it has to be the Kindle. And this fact is not lost on Kindle’s competition.
Sony has followed Amazon to Canada and has started shipping their own eBook readers there. But till date Sony lacks the kind of content that Kindle readers have easy access to with each and every Kindle. So it doesn’t look like Amazon will be threatened by Sony’s readers anytime soon. But that does not mean that Sony will not do anything about it.
As it turns out, Sony is planning its own online store, called Sony Online Service. Their primary target is iTunes but it is likely that they would want to provide content for all their devices and that logically should include Sony’s eBooks readers. However, if their content is as limited as their eBook reader and as unimaginative as their online service name, Amazon will have the last laugh on this one.
There has been an interesting development for UK Kindle fans, user TadW on MobileRead forums stumbled upon an article in the London Evening Standard which reviewed the Kindle, whilst the review offers nothing new in terms of information, there was a glimmer of hope for a UK autumn release date.
For now, in any case, at the moment, the Kindle is only available in America. There have been reports that Amazon. co.uk plans to launch a version of it here in the autumn (perhaps using wi-fi, rather than a phone system?) but when I asked a spokesman for the company about this, he refused to comment, monotonously repeating we dont talk about future plans.
But it seems the Kindle has now begun to acquire some of the momentum that iPods picked up over other MP3 players; just as iPods changed the way we listen, so the Kindle may, by next summer, say, be impacting on the way many of us read.
I say glimmer because that’s all it was, a tiny glimmer. A UK release would present some challenges for Amazon, the dominant standard for cellular communication in the UK is Global System for Mobile (GSM) whereas in the US it is Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO), Amazon would also have to negotiate a contract with a UK carrier. Amazon recently revealed that it had optimised its supply chain which was one of the reasons for the $40 price drop, with the supply problems behind them Amazon could now concentrate on developing the Kindle for new markets, and the UK & Europe would be a huge market for Amazon.
Amazon will most likely offer different versions of the Kindle in different countries, but for now I think Amazon will see how the Kindle performs in the US before they think about releasing it in the UK or anywhere else, which makes the autumn release seem a bit premature.
Source: MobileRead Forums