Amazon is in no danger of losing the Kindle Vs Sony battle as long as Sony keeps forgetting that the device is just an enabler and its content and the ease of getting and consuming content that provide the core value.
First, we’ll look at two examples showing Sony’s lack of understanding of how important content is. Then we’ll look at signs that this may be changing.
Sony ignoring content in Xbox 360 Vs Playstation 3
With its new $399 PS3 Slim, you’d think Sony has a good chance to beat the Xbox. Especially since you get the built-in Blu-Ray player for free.
However, as it has in the past, Sony is ignoring content -
- The PS3 Slim is not backwards compatible with PS2 so you can’t play that huge library of games.
- As numerous commenters at numerous forums will point out Xbox 360 has the better exclusive games (Halo, Gears of War etc.).
- For common games, the Xbox 360 games are easier to code i.e. content creation is easier for the Xbox.
Basically, Sony are selling a great product and not backing it up with great content and the ability for content creators to add great content easily.
Without excellent content options, what would otherwise be a terrific value propostion i.e. PS3 Console with Blu-Ray Player for the cost of just a Console, is much less compelling.
Sony ignoring content in Kindle Vs Sony
Sony are repeating the same mistake of focusing too much on the eReader and not realizing that the eReader is just an enabler to read books.
Here are some data points -
- Currently, there are something like 12K books available in the UK for the Sony Reader.
- The number of titles they have in the US is currently something like 100K (excluding free books).
- Instead of focusing on delivering content easily to customers, they’re focusing on other areas.
- While Kindle is encouraging independent publishers and B&N is stepping in too, Sony is doing nothing (as far as I know).
The addition of Google Books is not that important because most, perhaps all, of the true classics were available before Google Books got added to the Sony Store.
The 7,000 or so in the Kindle Store, and the 40,000 or so on Gutenberg and ManyBooks cover most of the good ones.
There’s a reason some public domain books are considered ‘classics’ and some haven’t been checked out of the library since 1929.
Could Sony be beginning to realize the importance of Content ?
There are two big signs that Sony might be turning a new leaf -
- Sony Reader Daily Edition will have a wireless connection to the Sony eBook Store.
- Sony Library Finder service will let users borrow ebooks from libraries.
These are good first steps. However, let’s not be under the illusion that this levels the playing field.
Here are a few more steps Sony ought to consider -
- Free Internet access on the Sony Reader 600 to enable wikipedia access and enhance reading.
- Dictionary on the 300. Surely, it couldn’t be more than software changes.
- Tying up with Barnes & Noble or Indigo and expanding amount of new content.
- Getting serious about adding more new titles. Its great that all the bestsellers of 1787 are available – however, people in 2009 would rather have the current bestsellers.
- Encouraging independent publishers.
It seems that Sony doesn’t want to do the hard stuff - negotiate with publishers, persuade them of the opportunity, support indie publishers, and so forth. Winning the war for the future of publishing is going to take a lot more than just offering free public domain books.