Sony has been making e-readers since 2004 and was the first mainstream company to use e-ink technology. They pioneered many innovations such as a touchscreen and built in light. This prompted many competitors to jump into the field, such as Amazon, B&N and Kobo. Sony has found that their consumer efforts might be drawing to a close, as reps have confirmed that the company will no longer be making devices.
Sony Europe gave an interview to a German tech blog and confirmed that they have no plans to release a Sony PRS-T4 or any other device aimed at the end user. Instead, they will continue to focus on the business segment, with the Sony Digital Paper leading the charge.
The Digital Paper is the first 13.3 inch e-reader to employ Mobius technology. This makes it tremendously lightweight and has been firmly embraced by medical, legal and the entertainment industry.This device does not have an eBook store and doesn’t even read eBooks, in the conventional sense. Instead, it is a heavily optimized PDF reader and has a hefty price of $1,100.
Digital Paper is marketed towards professionals and Sony deals with a few authorized partners to sell to niche markets. The demand actually caught Sony off-guard and they are now selling it directly. Sadly, they will only sell it to corporations or users that qualify via an extensive interview process. This is attributed to no official customer service and they want to insure the people using them will not be a pain to deal with.
In 2014 Sony closed their official bookstore in Australia, Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom. The only market they actually still sell eBooks is in their home country of Japan. Sony told us in a prior interview that the majority of their users are reading books on their smartphones and tablets. This is prompting them to double down on their core app experience and nix making dedicated e-readers.
Sony simply could not compete anymore in the cut-throat e-reader segment. They once had a premium price tag, but now its basically a race to the bottom. Who can sell them the cheapest and still make a bit of money doing it. Sony found out its a fools errand to compete on price alone and instead its better to scale down their market approach.
We have reached out to Sony canada and Sony Europe for official confirmation.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.