Sony Reader vs. Amazon Kindle

John Gapper, a Financial Times writer, has written an interesting article about Sony’s fumbled Sony Reader. Gapper makes some interesting points and argues that Sony Reader’s lack of a wireless connection has doomed the device vs. the Amazon Kindle.

While I agree with much of Gapper’s article, I don’t necessarily agree that all is lost for Sony. However, for the Sony Reader to go head-to-head with the Kindle at this point, it would take a passionate, fanatical executive in charge of the Sony Reader team.

Here’s my prescription for the Sony Reader not to be an also ran vs. the Kindle:

Celebrate the design – Have you seen the Apple vs. PC commercials that have blanketed the TV and web for years now? Sony should follow Apple’s lead and immediately launch a marketing campaign celebrating the Sony Reader’s design vs. the Kindle. Would you rather pull the sleek Sony Reader out when you’re on a plane or in a meeting, or would you rather pull out the Kindle which could be mistaken for a 1980s PC keyboard chopped in half. And, if the Sony Reader team doesn’t have the budget for TV commercials (which I doubt they do), record some video spots on the cheap and get them on the Web tomorrow.

Newspapers-magazines – A Sony Reader contracts exec should buy a tent from REI and camp out in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal offices until they have a digital deal to offer those newspapers on the Sony Reader. And, why stop there? Once those deals are inked, Sony should go straight down the list of the Top 50 (hell the Top 100) newspapers in the U.S. and abroad and get those newspapers – and magazines – available on the Sony Reader yesterday.

Wireless – The next generation Sony Reader HAS to have wireless to compete with the Kindle. Is there a next gen Reader ready for production? Does it have wireless? If not, scrap it now Sony and integrate wireless in whatever next gen Reader you release.

Software – Do you own a Sony Reader? Have you ever connected a Sony Reader to your PC to download books? And, don’t even bother trying to connect your Sony Reader to a Mac, the Sony Connect software for the Sony Reader won’t work on a Mac.

Well, if you have tried the Sony client software for the Sony Reader, that probably has something to do with your early onset balding. You’ll pull whatever hair out of your head trying to use the Sony Reader software. I’m not a software engineer, but this needs serious work. Is it possible to scrap the client software all together and log in via a secure web page for your Reader downloads? Maybe that’s the way to go vs. trying to fix the Sony Connect client.

RSS – Currently, the Sony Reader supports limited RSS feeds. Going back to marketing vs. the Kindle, Sony should be crowing about the fact that they’re not charging for RSS vs. the Kindle’s nickle and diming RSS strategy. Also, open it up. Set up feed software that enables me to grab any RSS feed out there for the Reader – not just the RSS feeds that Sony has chosen.

Additional content – Sony should be adamant about not allowing Amazon to take the lead with more books available. If Amazon announces a new digital rights deal with a publisher that Sony doesn’t have a contract with, that contract exec noted above needs to pull out his tent and prepare to camp out in the publisher’s office until Sony has an equal deal. And, try to take the lead with the number of ebooks available on the Reader vs. the Kindle. Right this minute, there are probably more than a hundred literary agencies in NYC sitting on a goldmine of digital rights. Sony should be meeting with all of those literary agents to get thousands, hundreds of thousands, of long tail, out-of-print novels available for the Sony Reader.

In addition, Amazon has set up a process for authors, and others, to publish their own content digitally and make it available for the Kindle. Sony needs to set up a similar process. Right now, I can load a PDF on my Sony Reader. The formatting doesn’t always work great. But, there should be an easy way that I can upload a PDF and push it to the Sony store – or even push it to other select Sony Reader users. That would be a wonderful selling point for sales forces everywhere. Salespeople would no longer have to carry around briefcases bulging with documents and catalogs. It could all be stored on the salesforce’s Sony Readers.

Short stories – Sony is offering short stories now for the Sony Reader, but they should ramp up that process even faster. There are hundreds of thousands of authors sitting on previously published short stories, and they control the digital rights for those stories. Get those short stories available for the Sony Reader now.

Well, that’s all my ideas for now. Regardless of what happens, it will continue to be interesting to watch Sony’s competition against Amazon. Sony may have taken a few lumps, but they’re not out of the game by any means.

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  • some say “Amazon Kindle Killer” 555

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  • Amazon Kindle!!!! =)

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  • Mambo

    I'll go with sony because of their hard work and taking care on the users i mean their customers..Good job..
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  • I Love Kindle but they won't sell them in Canada yet.

  • I Love Kindle but they won't sell them in Canada yet.

  • I love the Kindle however I wished it had the touch screen feature that the new sony kindle has

  • bobitoi

    i download tons of books for free for the sony reader, and if i cant find it for free online, i buy it from the sony store. there are many books that i cant find that amazon does have, ill admit that, but its minor compared to the money i save not forking over money to amazon to add RSS feeds or buying books, or sending stuff to the kindle caderea parului

  • Amazon took the time to figure out where people are able to download books, what locations are the most convenient, and built units for price and convenience. This is the difference between Sony’s approach to the market and Amazon’s. For example, the Amazon Kindle 3G with WiFi has built in 3G technology for use of cellular towers; people without computers or Internet connections may benefit from having access to so many resources. It also has the WiFi technology built-in which allows the user to connect from home wrieless router connected to Internet cable, to home computer that has wireless technology and is connected to Internet cable, or from Internet cafe hotspots. I agree the Sony looks sleak, but most ereaders are in a case and the case trumps ereader design.

  • Hilary11579

    I have a Sony Reader and my daughter has a Kindle. Her Kindle is a huge pain in the ass to download books to. My Reader takes 2 seconds to do it.