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Sony still sucking at naming products, still trying to make eBooks irrelevant

August 25, 2009

Reader_WPWith great fanfare, Sony unveiled its new Reader Daily Edition device yesterday in Manhattan, its first true response to the Amazon Kindle. And after taking a good look at the news, I’m convinced of two things: Sony has stupid people naming their products, and the Reader Daily Edition is destined to stay a niche product.

The Sony Reader Daily Edition, which is actually an improvement on how Sony normally names products, adds built-in 3G connectivity and the ability to check out eBooks from libraries across the U.S. It also finally adds Mac support and can handle many open text formats including PDFs and Word Documents.

But what’s more important is what the eReader doesn’t have. The $399 Daily (Why couldn’t they have just called it that? The Sony Daily!) doesn’t have WiFi, and still sports the least sexy of all technologies, the greyscale screen. Just like the Amazon Kindle. Now I know, E Ink  displays are easy on the eyes and have enormous battery life. But that doesn’t sell products. Colour screens and ultra-cool designs sell products. Sony’s new eReader also doesn’t have a web browser. A seven-inch wide touchscreen display, and all it can do is display text. Fitting given its crippled connectivity options.

It’s almost as if Sony (and Amazon) are happy to pour in endless amounts of money into research and development, just to see Apple come in and take control of the entire market the moment it finally launches its tablet/big-ass iPod touch. Amazon at least has an exit strategy – an excellent eBook app for the iPhone and whatever iProduct Apple eventually releases – whereas Sony will once again be in a familiar position when the iTablet comes: completely irrelevant in a market it could have owned.

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