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Sony to challenge Apple in Japan with e-reader

NEWS
Sony to challenge Apple in Japan with e-reader

Friday, May 28, 2010

••• A group of four companies including Sony Corp. has announced the launch of a new firm to facilitate the distribution of digital content for the emerging e-reader market, including Sony’s Reader.

The four companies – Sony, Toppan Printing Co., KDDI Corp. and Asahi Shimbun Co. – jointly announced on Thursday that they are setting up a new company to provide a common base for e-publishing by facilitating the digitization, distribution and promotion of newspaper and other publication content.

“We’d like to provide an opportunity for users to easily access e-publications whenever and wherever they’d like, while establishing a platform where publishers can provide their content with ease,” said a representative of the four companies.

The four firms will jointly form a planning company on July 1, which will be turned into a business corporation by the end of the year for the launch of the new service.

The move has already gained support from a number of major publishers, including Kodansha, Shogakukan, Shueisha and Bungei Shunju – all members of the recently established Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan (EBPAJ). With the new partnership aiming to launch multiple online bookstores, it aspires to seek support from other publishers as well.

Each of the four founding companies will hold 25 percent shares in the new firm, which will be capitalized at 30 million yen. The location of its headquarters has yet to be decided.

Sony, which will release its e-ink-based Reader in Japan later this year, is a “returner” to the country’s e-book market. Though it had attempted to break into the e-book business as early as 1990, a lack of e-book content eventually forced the company to pull out in Japan.

“Things have evolved since then, with completely different content offerings and devices. The time is now ripe,” Sony Electronics Senior Vice President Fujio Noguchi said during a press conference on Thursday.

Regarding Apple Inc.’s release of the iPad tablet computer to the domestic market on Friday, Noguchi said, “I don’t think we got a late start.”

Meanwhile, KDDI will also develop its own e-reader device.

“The market will see a variety of e-reader devices popping up, but they cannot do without 3G cellular connections. We have an advantage in making a foray into the market,” said a KDDI representative.
• Source(s): Sony Corporation (ソニー株式会社)
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