New York - As Sony rolled out three new e-readers todayl, the company said it will continue to make its own way down the e-reader path and stay out of the price wars that have knocked down the prices on its competitor's products.
While Amazon and Barnes & Noble have been attempting to outduel each other for the lowest priced e-reader, with entry-level Wi-Fi e-readers on the market for $139 and $149, respectively, Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading business, sees no reason to drop prices.
"The Sony Reader Touch model is a better seller at $229 [than the $179 Pocket]. We think people are willing to pay more for the features they want," he said.
With that in mind, Sony does not intend to join the price battle, he said.
With the Sony Readers just passing their second year on the market, the company is noting changes in customer purchasing habits. Haber said initial sales of the Readers took place in bookstores; Sony has partnered with Border's, but now more are purchased in CE and other types of stores.
Haber said book sales are quickly ramping up and that the Sony Bookstore recorded its 10 millionth book download in May. The company is about to make available mobile reading apps for Android and the iPhone.
Sony's latest Reader updated includes three devices: the Pocket, Touch and Daily, with respective pricing of $179, $229 and $299.
The main upgrade to the Pocket is a touchscreen, Haber said, and it is smaller and lighter due to the elimination of the buttons along the side and by dropping the usual glass layer off the screen. It also turns pages quicker and is now available in pink and silver. Matching cases are also available.
Touchscreen capability was one of the most requested additions by Sony customers and helps make the device read more like a book.
"The most important aspect of the reader to the customer is for it feel like a book," Haber said.
All of the Readers now use the Pearl V220 E Ink technology and can read books in the EPUB and PDF formats.
The Pocket has 2GB of internal memory. It retains its predecessor's 5-inch display and features USB connectivity.
Wi-Fi was specifically not added because Sony found the readers were most often used in the home, where people could simply connect them to their PC for downloading new books.
The Touch features a 6-inch touchscreen and is also slightly smaller and lighter than previous models. It is available in black or red. Like the Pocket, it connects to a computer via USB cable for downloading content and power.
The flagship Daily Edition Reader steps up to include Wi-Fi and free 3G wireless capability through AT&T. It has 7-inch touchscreen, 2GB of internal memory, and SD and MemoryStick card slots. Sony claimed it has 27 days of reading on a single battery charge.