Archive for sony
Sony announced a few weeks ago that they were closing the Reader Store and customers books were being transferred to Kobo. With a bombshell announcement like this, it was inevitable that many questions and concerns would arise. Sony has addressed a few of this issues to Good e-Reader, that should put people at ease.
Within the next few weeks there will be an automated email sent out to customers who have purchased books from the Reader Store. This email will provide users with a step by step tutorial on how to transfer your library from Sony to Kobo. Obviously not all titles you bought from Sony will be available on Kobo, and you can still read them on your Sony e-Reader regardless.
Many customers have voiced their trepidation about switching their library to Kobo. Sony has confirmed to Good e-Reader that nothing will happen to the books that are on your device. You can continue to read all of the books you bought from Sony, doing the same things you have always done. You just cannot buy new titles from the Sony Store. Whether you have bought 1 book or have thousands, you are not forced to transfer your library to Kobo to keep on reading.
Sony e-Readers often have a ton of space to house thousands of books. Some readers like to keep their devices lightweight and delete past purchases once they have read them. This is no big deal, because all purchases are stored in the Sony Cloud, able to be downloaded again, at any time. Sony has verified that you have until April 30th to redownload any of your past purchases, that were deleted from the e-Reader.
Finally, the Sony Daily Edition, was one of the more popular e-readers and had a 3G connection. Sadly, Sony confirmed “ The 3G connection to Reader Store on the PRS-900 or PRS-950 will be discontinued. We encourage customers to download our Reader for PC/Mac software (available here) . Starting in late March, our Reader for PC/Mac software will enable customers to directly connect to the Kobo Store for future purchases. They can use the software then to also transfer new titles via USB to their Reader from Sony.”
So in the end, customers are not forced to switch their libraries to Kobo. If you are happy with your current collection, nothing will happen to it. You can continue to read books forever on the Sony Reader, you just can’t buy new ones. Many people don’t want to switch to Kobo, for various reasons. Going forward, you can just download books from the internet and manually load them on your device, no big deal.
Over the last few weeks Sony has announced the closure of their digital bookstore in the US and Canada. This apparently was a foreshadowing of what is to come, as the Japanese company has announced 20 of their 31 retail stores in the US will be closing down immediately. Close to 1,000 people will be losing their jobs and the only stores to remain will be in California, New York, Florida, and Texas.
Sony has been floundering for a number of years with their dedicated Sony Style and Sony retail stores. The companies 4K television technology and Sony Playstation 4 are doing very well. Basically, the company is restructuring their retail presence by selling their tablets and smartphones in electronic and cell phone stores. Instead of being burdened by a costly overhead, they are going to just have big box and boutique stores sell their devices for them. This obviously is the ideal strategy going forward, as the bulk of their customers are starting to buy more things online.
Sony can be considered the first mainstream company to get involved in the e-reader space. They had models on the market at least a full year before Amazon even announced the first Kindle. A few weeks ago a bombshell announcement was made that Sony was closing their online Reader Store and transitioning all of their North American customers to Kobo. Users, are starting to express tremendous disdain about this move.
Jeff P recently wrote “HORRID! HORRID! HORRID! I’ve been a member since November 2007. The only readers or tablets I’ve ever were Sony so that I could use the reader software. I once told a sales clerk that I didn’t need the extended warranty because I was buying a Sony. Almost every piece of electronic equipment I have is Sony. I won’t buy another Sony ANYTHING. Yes, you say customers are first, well, I’m the first customer to tell you that you’ve made a HORRID mistake and I’m never going to buy another Sony product EVER.”
Ray Laurence actually made a very good point. “Shocking news. I am surprised that I received this news via my son who received an email from you. I never received an email. Considering the volume of purchases and the activity in my account, I would have thought I would have been notified. I would like to know what Sony intends to do with our financial data, and if I can remove it at this point.” Sony let him know that they will only remove financial data on a per request basis.
Danise said “I am struggling to not cry. I worked for Borders books for 10 years and liquidated 3 stores. For any book lover, for anyone who wants options in the marketplace (Amazon being the last place I buy books), this is a shame.”
Elle Couto weighed in by saying “I am very unhappy about this and it is unlikely I will ever purchase a Sony product again. Your company does not realize that any time a U.S. customer purchases anything from Kobo, we pay a foreign transaction fee. This is why I stopped purchasing from them. Bad form, Sony and I will certainly keep that in mind when I purchasing other products that Sony makes.”
Joeanne Vallat commented “To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I love my Sony e-reader and the Sony site. I have 300+ books on my e-reader and am holding my breath that they transfer over. From the other comments about Kobo, the quality, pricing and customer service I am really not looking forward to this experience. I signed with Kobo with my BB Playbook and only got one book as there was just no comparison between Kobo and Sony. I do not believe your statement that you care about your customers or you would have done more research on this before you made the move.”
Della said “I hate kobo when borders went out of business kobo took over and we never could recover our purchased books. This stinks.”
Ron is another user regretting to ever do business with Sony “When Borders closed their ebook store they moved content to Kobo as well. What a disappointment that was. Funny thing, Sony closes a well run site and transfers customers to Kobo, a company that somehow manages to stay in business despite a lack of customer service, poor interface, poor selection, high prices and just an overall bad experience.
For what it’s worth, I went to Kindle recently and I wish I had gone with Kindle in the first place. And, it’s relatively simple to load epub books onto the Kindle, just google for instructions. Amazon customer service is great, prices are good, it’s easy to use and the battery life is much better than Sony (I have 3, all have short battery life). And the new Paperwhite has built in side lighting as an option. It will be a long, long time before I buy another Sony product.”
Tony weighed in with “I have just been SHOCKED by the news of Sony abandoning yet another one of its greatest creations! I am a loyal SONY consumer, but it is starting to become hard to stay in love with them. From the Mini-Disc to its music store and now its ebook store…all GONE. Extremely saddened!”
Elizabeth Ruyle lamented “I am really beginning to feel like I have been scammed. I have had my Ereader for a little over 3 years and have been very happy with it and the library/store. Therefore, for Christmas I bought two readers for my children – supposedly on sale. Now I find out my reader won’t work on transfer.
My reader needed a repair and in the process the tech lost about 8-10 books I really want. Now they say over $100 to repair, even though the model won’t work. I thought Sony was a well established and reliable company – so much for “reliable name brand” companies. I really feel like we are getting a raw deal. I have bragged about Sony readers to everyone who has asked what brand I have. Not any more, I will complain and bad talk Sony now. This 78 yr old lady feels like I have been taken advantage of.”
Sony has a lot going on its smartphone and tablet business now that it has let gone of its PC division. In such a backdrop, the company has launched the Xperia Z2 tablet at the MWC, which is its first after having sold its VAIO PC business. Also as if the Xperia Tablet Z wasn’t already thin and light enough, the latest Xperia Z2 has been made even slimmer and lighter than its predecessor. This is on top of the usual Sony preference to make their device water and dust proof and what you have is a premium tablet that can also survive some harsh treatment.
Also of course being the lightest tablet isn’t the only positive aspect of the new Xperia Tablet Z2 as it also comes with some serous horsepower to take on even severe processing duties. That is aided in part by the use of the Snapdragon 801 quad core chip rated at 2.3 Ghz and the Adreno 330 GPU paired to a 3 GB RAM that allows for multitasking operations. Internal storage options is limited to 16 and 32 GB though there is a micro SD card slot as well to add some more memory. Running the show will be Android 4.4 Kitkat which has been tweaked only slightly to integrate Sony’s own ecosystem into the offering. Upfront, it is a 10.1 inch full HD Triluminous display to feast your eyes on.
For those who feast on numbers, the Xperia Tablet Z2 is only 6.4 mm thick, which is 0.5 mm less than the Xperia tablet Z. Further, the Tablet Z2 tips the scales at just 426 grams, which again is 69 gram less than the Tablet Z. For comparison’s sake, the new iPad Air measures 7.5 mm and weighs 469 grams. However, a fallout of the super thin frame is the use of rather thick bezels all round, a trend that is fast becoming obsolete. This also makes the overall dimensions of the tablet that wee bit bigger though with the Xperia Tablet Z2, this does not translate to carrying more bulk. Most new tablets launched at the MWC sports super thin bezels, which definitely is the latest style trend to invade the tablet segment. Case in point is the new Huawei MediaPad X1 which offers a 7 inch display.
Also what seems evident is that Sony is bucking the trend of launching affordable devices to build up volume. Instead, it is the premium segment that Sony is glued to, at least for the moment. Availability of the Xperia Tablet Z2 is pegged at March 2014 and we hope to come across the exact pricing details closer to that date. Don’t expect to be too pocket friendly though.
The fabled Sony 13.3 inch e-reader, known as the DPT-S1 is now available in Japan. It is only for sale via the business unit of Sony and is seeing limited trials at 3 universities. Currently is available for 98,000 yen, which is fairly expensive. Sony will not divulge how many units were sold, but my sources have saying the sales are extremely limited.
The Sony 13.3 inch e-reader is planned on hitting the USA within the next three months. It is set to have a price tag of $1100 to $1200 dollars, which puts it out of reach for most common folk. The plan is to bring it into Canada too, but only from the direct to business arm of Sony, it will not be marketed to customers. One of the barriers is the inability to read anything but PDF files, which limits the scope of who sees this as a viable option.
This e-Reader is one of the most eagerly anticipated models of the year. It is perfect for schools or people involved in technical fields, where recharging a device when you’re out, is simply not an option.
Sony has been selling e-readers since 2006 and only saw 300,000 units being sold until 2008. Everything changed when Amazon got into the eBook and e-reader market and the industry took notice. This increased the visibility of the Sony brand and they sold 800,000 units in 2010, just before the market peaked in 2011.
Sony has seen diminished sales since their peak and they have been on the downward trend ever since. In 2011, Sony accounted for 28% of all e-readers sold in Canada. In 2012, its presence diminished to 18% and in 2013 dropped down to 12%. Last year proved to be the beginning of the end for Sony, as they abandoned the USA market and instead are focusing on Canada, UK, Europe and Australia.
A few weeks ago Sony announced that they were closing down their Reader Store and all books would be transferred over to Kobo. All future e-readers, phones and tablets sold in North America would have the Kobo app loaded on it and Sony would cut a piece of commission for every title sold. Kobo is also paying Sony a licensing fee to have their bookstore replace the one that Sony has been running for a very long time.
Can Sony be saved? They have the financial resources to make it happen, here is my plan to save the Reader Store and bring their e-Readers back into prominence.
Saving the Reader Store
The Sony Reader Store has been operating for a very long time. It wasn’t really a viable bookstore until 2008 when they abandoned their proprietary LRF format and switched to EPUB. This attracted publishers and self-publishing platforms such as Smashwords to easily contribute content in a universally accepted format.
The Reader Store really expanded their reach in the last three years when it expanded into UK, Japan, Germany, Austria, Canada, and Australia, and opened up shop in France, Italy, and Spain in 2012. They have great market position in countries where the digital book selling market is not absolutely corner-stoned.
Natascha Helbig is the director of the Sony Reader Store in the US and Canada. She was instrumental in solidifying publisher relations and launching their book club, book discovery tools, and infographs. When the bookstore first started rolling out these features, she told me in an exclusive interview, “We always look for new and exciting ways for our customers to discover new books and authors, and to learn more about the authors they love. The Sony Readers Book Club was a great experience which brought us closer together with our customers and allowed us to all participate in a reading experience together. We had hundreds of applications for the club and our online chats generated millions of impressions. The book club was a great way to discover new authors and titles and facilitate lively discussions amongst our customers and authors, and those are themes you will continue to see at Reader Store.”
The Sony Reader Store right now is in big trouble. The fact that commissions from Kobo book sales make financial sense and licensing fees outweigh the revenue earned from Reader Store book sales speaks volumes.
If I was in charge of the Reader Store, I would first bring back their book club. They started to do it every month, but after six books decided to abandon the project. Considering it was basically being run through their blog, it makes sense that things fell apart. Book clubs were instrumental in bridging the community and starting a book culture at Sony. This is what they are sorely missing, anyone can sell books, but if you don’t have a community, you are nothing.
I would save the Sony Book clubs by implementing a Netflix of eBooks type of subscription system. You would pay $29.99 a year and get access to a new front-list title every single month. The exact title would be determined by user voting to insure that the one title that was available was voted on by the majority of people participating in the book club. The actual titles available for vote would be curated by someone at Sony to insure they can give the titles away and insure the author was available for a Q/A. Instead of relying on Facebook for community discussion, I would iron out a deal with Goodreads to have a special Sony Book Club discussion center. This could be accessed via the web and a new book club app I would have the boys in IT make. This book club app would be available for Android, where they could subscribe, talk, and read, while the iOS app would just have the social aspect since Sony can’t sell books on Apple. Finally, I would insure the author would participate in a live Spreecast, where they could appear on web-cam, answer peoples live questions and talk about the book.
Sony continues to see moderate success over in Europe and Australia. I would continue to operate normally in these markets, but I would expand into the rising markets where no one controls the digital ecosystem yet and Sony can leverage their strong brand. Brazil, Latin America, and South Africa are the easiest markets to break into due to the political climate and the strong reader base. It is important to not be complacent in the few markets you operate under and continuously have to expand into other markets. This keeps the brand fresh and brings new ideas to the table from local agents and publishers who are feeding Sony books to sell. It would also stimulate hardware sales, selling e-readers for less than the competition.
Website owners may be oblivious to this fact, but the Reader Store has a commission program. They pay bloggers, website owners, and authors 6% of any eBook they sell via people clicking on banner adverts. The problem is there is no information on this at all on the Reader Store website. This are no links to the program or easy enrollment options. Obviously, having other people promote your brand is the easiest way to advertise. I would revise this section, allow people to customize banners on any book they want, and pay people out at the $100 threshold once a month.
Sony needs to lower their prices on their eBooks. Often, they are double the cost of Amazon and basically on par with Apple. The average price of a fiction bestseller at Amazon is $9.99 and at Sony it is $15. Sony needs to sell books at the exact price that Amazon does for key markets in Europe. This is the only way they can promote themselves as being a true Amazon alternative, which is what allowed Kobo to get so strong, so quickly.
In the end, the Reader store needs to lower eBook prices, build community, open a proper subscription based book club, expand into foreign markets and leverage their name brand as a primary mover of growth. Sadly, the Reader Store team is tiny, there are less then eight full time people running the show, a few interns, and that’s it.
The Sony e-Reader Regains its Prominence
Sony has close to eleven e-readers in their product portfolio and has been a solid brand since 2006. When the company first started releasing e-readers they basically had no competition. Within four years they had hundreds of competitors, and they were caught unprepared for how fast the industry had grown in the few short years.
In the past, Sony would always release three new e-readers a year and for the last three years has only issued one. Sony also relies on 3rd parties for content, which often shoots them in the foot. They had an agreement with Google to hustle books directly with their PRS-T1 e-reader, but when Google changed their system and amalgamated everything into Google Play, it disallowed anyone with a Sony to buy books from the Play Store. Imagine having a new Sony e-Reader, using the device for the first time, and clicking on Google Books only to see error messages. The PRS-T2 did a little bit better of a job with Evernote and Overdrive Library lending. The PRS-T3 was a let down and was not even marketed in the US, Sony had abandoned the market completely.
The truth behind the decline in Sony e-reader sales, starts with the executive team. This actually hinders growth. The first thing I would do if I ran the hardware division is fire people like Stephanie Lang, head of group IT division of Sony France. She was instrumental in the e-reader designs and said that front-lite screens were a dead technology, instead she developed reading lights for the PRS-T3. Reading lights people, in 2014. Kindle, Kobo, Barnes and Noble all have close to three generations of illuminated screens, to allow you to read in the dark, and Sony bets on reading lights. You wonder why the e-reader brand is failing? It is because you have idiots like Stephanie that are oblivious to market trends and fail to see the virtues of forward thinking technology. I am surprised each new e-reader did not ship with a candlestick and a note saying “happy reading – the future is now.”
To turn around the Sony hardware division I would hire Bill Saperstein, who was the VP of Nook. He has experience in running a modern hardware company and Sony could get a breath of fresh air in the executive ranks. Sony needs to think in terms of being a startup again, pressing reset on the e-Reader hardware and starting new. Here is the plan.
Sony and e-Ink worked together in 2013 to develop Mobius technology. Mobius displays can weigh less than 50% of an equivalent glass based TFT and they can be cut to any specific size. This is what I would incorporate into the Sony PRS-T4 and also front-lit technology. Most people aren’t aware of this, but Sony e-Readers run Android. I would make deals with companies like Instapaper and load their rss/read it later service on it. This would be my counter to Kobo and Pocket.
The Sony 13.3 is the best e-reader I have seen in my entire life. It weighs almost half of the Kindle DX and other large screen e-readers. It has amazing resolution and was primarily designed for reading and editing PDF Files. No e-reader in the world gave you the robust level of reading and clarity as this reader gave me. Where is it now? Wallowing in obscurity at Sony Japan, in their business unit. Customers could not even buy these if they wanted to. There are rumors that it crossing over to the USA in April 2014, but at a $1200 price tag. Obviously, this would be the next great product. I would charge $500 for it and bill it as the best PDF e-reader in the world. I would market the hell out of this and use this as the flagship device, that schools, education and anyone who needs PDF Files for their work. Why Sony is sleeping on this e-reader, when it still has tremendous buzz surrounding it, does not make any sense to me.
Finally, as I stated above, all modern Sony e-Readers run Android. I would put our own Good e-Reader APP Store on it, and design it that the only apps to install would be e-reading, comic book apps, newspaper and magazine apps, and small productivity apps, such as Dropbox. No Android e-reader has a small app market built right into it. This is what is needed for Sony to distinguish themselves from the competition. Give customers a greater choice, give them more freedom, give them modern hardware, give them a reason to buy one. The company mantra should be – we empower readers.
I have looked at the major changes I would implement if I ran either the Reader Store or the hardware division. Sony seems too complacent and does not have strong motivation to do well in the market. Everyone working there in the executive ranks are there for a paycheck. They wake up in the morning, talk to publishers, get more books, and have them added to the site. They certainly aren’t issuing firmware updates, doing research and development, or staying current. They certainly are not innovative anymore and have lost the will to live. Sony right now is like a death row inmate, you don’t know when execution time is, but you get into a daily pattern of pseudo-zombie living.
Sony is an e-Reader brand that is dying. The writing is on the wall and the company will ultimately abandon their own store and line of e-readers within a year. Europe will follow North America’s suit once they get a few paychecks from Kobo. Kobo will then take over their entire digital ecosystem and Sony will just make tablets and phones.
Honestly, it is not that hard to turn things around. e-Readers are a low-cost gateway to expand with. It is hard to enter Brazil with a $700 tablet or phone, but relatively easy with a $100 e-reader. This is how the e-reader division should be organized. It is a gateway to success and open with Android to allow people to install their favorite reading apps, local newspaper apps or local news apps. You then release the 13.3 inch device to a very niche market, that is positively starving for something like this.
I wish I could just save Sony. I have been following the e-reader industry since 2008, I have a very unique perspective on how the worldwide market works for eBooks and e-Readers. I talk to hundreds of start-ups a year and travel all over the world looking at the latest tech. You get to a point where you can see who will do well and who will wallow away and fade. Unless Sony hires some new key executives and changes their approach for selling e-readers, eBooks, newspapers and magazines, they are doomed.
Sony has announced they are quitting the PC business to focus more on tablet and smartphone devices, and we could see the first example of such an endeavor during the upcoming MWC event. For the event, Sony is rumored to be readying the launch of the Zperia Z2 device, a successor to the highly acclaimed Xperia Z1 that Sony launched in May 2013. The Japanese conglomerate has also been rumored to be developing a next gen tablet code named Castor. The Castor was further associated with specs such as a quad-core Snapdragon 800 SoC and so on.
Interestingly, the latest leak by evleaks says the Xperia Z2 is likely to be powered by a quad core Snapdragon 800 SoC rated at 2.3 GHz. The chip will have at its disposal an impressive 3 GB RAM, along with 16 GB of internal storage. The latter will be boosted further by a SD card slot. Upfront, it will have the same 10.1 inch Triluminos screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, already available with the current gen Xperia Tablet Z. This translates to a pixel density of 224 ppi. (Just for comparison’s sake, the iPad Air boasts of a pixel density of 264 ppi.)
However, the biggest improvement with the upcoming Xperia Tablet Z2 – if rumors are indeed true – is that it will sport an even slimmer profile at 6.4 mm. The current Tablet Z already boasts of being the slimmest at 6.9 mm. The qualities of the upcoming Tablet Z2 include water and dust proof features, along with an 8- and 2-megapixel camera along the rear and front respectively, as well as a 600 mAh battery. Finally, it’s expected to have the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system.
Industry watches can expect more during the MWC that will kick off in Barcelona next week.
The Sony Smartwatch 2 is the second attempt of the Japanese company to try and cornerstone the industry. Conservative research states that the entire smartwatch industry will be worth $62 billion by 2018. This is prompting an entire cadre of startups to get into this space. Sony is one of the few with a second generation device, next to Pebble. How does this stack up against the competition?
The Sony SmartWatch 2 has a new 1.6-inch transflective LCD touchscreen and soft keys that mimic Android’s back, home, and menu functions. The resolution is only 220 x 176, this is fairly poor, as pixels tend to be jagged. You can tell there is not much memory in this device, because they are not really using anti-aliasing. Most of the core functionality is built around interacting with the touchscreen and pairing it with your phone.
The Smartwatch 2 is not very smart, sadly. The built in functionality on it can tell the time, be used as a stopwatch, and be used as an alarm. But that’s about it. You can reject incoming calls from the SmartWatch and automatically send a SMS text.
You really need to have an Android Smartphone to take advantage of this watch. In order to even set it up, you need to download the Sony Android software to control it and load in firmware. There also is not a dedicated Sony Android App Market. This is something Pebble did right in their iOS app, you can install faces, gps, productivity and fitness apps. Heck, there is even games like Asteroids! The Sony App, is basically a portal to other apps listed on Google Play. So, if you have a phone that is not compatible with Google Play, or does not have the G Services, you are doomed.
In the end, the Sony Smartwatch 2 is not very smart. You can think of it as a dumb terminal that is reliant on your phone for most of the apps. Really, this is meant to pair to your phone via bluetooth and give you notifications. It is meant to ping you when you get text messages, Whatsapp messages and let you know when someone is calling. It might save time to glance at your wrist, rather than take your phone out, get it out of standby and open the notification. Check out our unboxing and review to get a sense on our thoughts.
Sony has signed a deal with Kobo to serve as the official ebook partner for Sony in the US and Canada. This will enable users of Sony ereaders, tablets, and smartphone to tap into the vast collection of ebooks that Kobo offers, which runs well above 4 million titles. along with a rich collection of magazines, newspapers, and kids content.
The development also marks the end of the road for Sony’s own Reader store that, as things stand right now, will remain in operation until end of March. After that, customers will be sent emailed instructions of the process to transfer their Reader Store libraries to Kobo. Also, the Kobo app will come pre-installed on select Xperia smartphone and tablet devices.
Speaking about the move, Ken Orii, Vice President of Digital Reading Business Division at Sony, said: “Kobo is the ideal solution for our customers and will deliver a robust and comprehensive user experience. Like Sony, they are committed to those most passionate about reading and share our vision to use open formats so people can easily read anytime and anywhere.
“Our customers can be assured that they will have a seamless transition to the Kobo ecosystem and will be able to continue to access and read the titles they love from Sony devices.”
This comes amidst the restructuring process that Sony is in right now and demonstrates its policy of concentrating more on tablet and smartphone business. It has already sold off its PC business along with the VAIO brand to JIB.
Commenting on the development, Takahito Aiki, CEO of Kobo, said: “With a shared philosophy to deliver the best reading experience across platforms and with the best content available, Kobo and Sony will reach more people than ever before. Together, millions of customers across the US and Canada will find their next great read at their fingertips – any time, any place, and on any device.”
Sony has sold the PC segment to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners who will now be the new owners of the once famed VAIO brand. This line has been expected for some time now, more so after the PC segment witnessed a sharp 10 percent decline in 2013. Instead, the Japanese electronics giant has stated it would be focusing more on tablets and smartphones, the post-PC devices.
The Sony brand name has always been synonymous with quality and durability, which wins the company accolades with its Xperia range of devices. However, the Xperia range, which is dedicated to Android right now and comprises of water and dust proof tablet and smartphones, caters more to the higher end of the market. With the emphasis now almost entirely on mobile devices, what remains to be seen is whether the company will finally change its business strategy and target the mid-range segment as well, if not the entry level budget segment.
Sony’s plan to exit the PC business might not be the end of the road for its association with Windows as they may still release a series of high end smartphones and tablets running Windows. Meanwhile, the VAIO Flip 11A, which happened to be the sole new product that the company showcased at CES, could well be the last VAIO branded device to have been conceptualized and built by Sony. It’s an impressive piece of hardware offering 11 inches of convertible computing for a reasonable $799.
The company said job cuts of about 5,000 are also possible. Sony also revised its yearly forecast from a profit of 30 billion yen to a loss of 110 billion yen or $1.1 billion.
In another unrelated development, Sony also plans to hive off its TV business into a separate entity by June 2014.
In the fast changing world of technology where manufacturers are ever on the lookout for newer segment to engage with the consumer, phablets or big screen smartphones seem to have emerged as a surprise hit. Often being the butt of many a joke during the initial days, phablets have not only grown in size and scope but have also started posing a serious challenge to the entry level tablet segment comprising of 7 inch devices. Analytic O’Donnell who has over 14 years of experience tracking the tech segment too is backing the above trend with some hardcore figures, claiming sale of phablets could peak to a healthy 175 million in 2014, outstripping that of small tablets by about 10 million.
The above trend is understandable considering the biggest out there, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra offers a 6.4 inch display, quite humongous by smartphone standards following by the equally expansive HTC One Max coming in with a 6 inch display. The HTC One Max is also unique in it being the only other device apart from the Apple iPhone 5s to come with an integrated fingerprint sensor. These clearly are a few notches below than the smallest tablet currently on sale. Nokia is the newest entrant in this segment with its Lumia 1020 that is another one to offer a 6 inch display. However, it is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with its 5.7 inch display that is the most sought after device in this segment. These are small enough to be still included in your pockets while offering almost the same functionality as a full fledged tablet.
Technically, any device with a display greater than 5 inches is considered to be a phablet, a term coined to denote a device that’s bigger than a smartphone while still being smaller than the smallest tablet that usually is no bigger than 7 inches when measured diagonally. However, phablets even with smaller dimensions offers better functionality than tablet devices in being more portable while still offering almost the same or even better functionality than tablet devices. Better Bluetooth tech has also saved users from the ignominy of holding up a big slab of a device up to the ear for communicating.
However, strange as it might seem, phablets are still far from being in vogue in the US considered the biggest tablet market in the world. Instead, phablet devices have grown in popularity in Europe, Asia and Latin American countries. Particular mention must be made of South Korea where phablets account for two third of all smartphone sales. Maybe the trend could change once Apple too joins the scene with a bigger screen version of the iPhone, something that is being speculated for quite some time now. A juicy proposition it sure will be, considering another Samsung vs Apple duel to be witnessed that currently is limited to the smartphone and tablet segments.
It looks like the movies are following in the path of comics, as Sony announced two spinoffs of its Amazing Spider-Man movies and the hiring of a set of writers who will create a shared universe of interlocking stories—the announcement gives their mandate as “to expand the universe for the brand and to develop a continuous tone and thread throughout the films.”
The news was first broken to sharp-eyed viewers of the new trailer for Amazing Spider-Man 2, who noticed a hidden URL in a beam of light. That URL led to a website, ElectroArrives.com, which seems to have a single animated image; mouse around, though, and you’ll find a link to the press release. And there’s a countdown, too, although there’s no indication of what it is counting down to—the target date is New Year’s Day.
According to the hidden press release, the “franchise brain trust” will include Marc Webb, the director of the first two Amazing Spider-Man movies, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, and writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon and Drew Goddard. With Amazing Spider-Man 2 due in theaters next May, Kurtzman, Orci and Pinkner (who collaborated on Fringe) will start work on Amazing Spider-Man 3, which Webb will likely direct as well.
The spinoffs will center on longtime Spider-Man foes Venom and the Sinister Six. Venom is a “symbiote” who must bond with another being to exist; he first entered the Marvel universe as a new suit for Spider-Man in Secret Wars #8, then shifted to Eddie Brock as the host in Amazing Spider-Man #300 (which is available on Marvel Unlimited but not comiXology). Venom has taken over several other hosts as well, and ComiXology also has a good assortment of Venom titles. Kurtzman and Orci, who collaborated on Star Trek: Into Darkness and Transformers, will write the Venom movie, and Kurtzman will direct it.
The Sinister Six are an alliance of supervillains originally organized by Doctor Octopus in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. The lineup has changed considerably over the years, with the most recent incarnation appearing in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Goddard, whose writing credits include Cloverfield and World War Z as well as Cabin in the Woods, which he also directed, has just been tapped as the showrunner and executive producer of the Netflix Daredevil series. He will also write and direct the first episode. As Sean O’Connell of Cinema Blend points out, that raises the possibility of yet another expansion of the Spider-Man universe: A Spidey-Daredevil crossover.
Sony has been quietly developing a 13.3 inch e-Reader that is specialized for reading and editing PDF Files via a Stylus. The company has announced today on their Japanese website that they intend on commercially releasing it in Japan this December for $1100 US. The move to sell it in Japan first is due to a trial that five Universities engaged in to test the feasibility of the product in an academic setting.
The first time Sony had displayed this product publically was at the e Ink booth at SID Display Week in Vancouver. Not only is this the first 13.3 inch e-reader in the world, but the screen technology was developed by Sony, called Mobius. This is a flexible high resolution e-paper display screen that makes it lighter and more durable. e Ink told us that the major benefit of Mobius is that the tech allows them to cut it to any size they want, and still retain all of the benefits.
The new Sony e-Reader 13.3 will be known as the Digital paper “DPT-S1.” The PDF experience is the main attraction of this device, obviously you can take notes and make annotations by either writing with the stylus or the full virtual keyboard. If you make a note, you can save that page as an independent file. If you have a big PDF document and make all sorts of edits, you can save it as a “Workspace” into its own PDF document. This insures you have your virgin file, with no edits and then your changed document with all of your notes.
If you have a large document with many notes, you can actually initiate a new feature that will allow you to look up all of the notes or changes you made on the document. A search feature will bring up a list on the right hand side, listing every single change you have ever made. If you tap on any of them, the page will open.
When we reviewed the e-Reader at SID Display Week it did not have support for EPUB books, just PDF Files. Sony has confirmed today that the e-reader will ONLY support PDF files, so you won’t be able to read your normal eBooks on it, unless you use a 3rd party program to convert your books from one format to another.
Finally, Sony intends to launch this in Japan first, but plans on doing an international rollout in April 2014 to Canada and Europe. They are trying to market it to schools and businesses that can push out documents from a centralized server right to the e-readers via WIFI.