Sony Corp. will make its e-book service available on other companies’ smartphones and tablet computers in an effort to compete with Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Kindle service.
Sony launched the Reader, its e-book device, and the Reader Store, which sells e-books, in the United States in 2009 and later expanded the service to Japan and Europe.
But it has only sold an estimated 1 million Readers, compared with the more than 10 million Kindles purchased.
With Amazon expected to open a Japanese-language Kindle Store, probably this year, Sony is anxious to protect its content-distribution service.
Working in Amazon’s favor is the fact that the Sony Reader service has basically been limited to the Reader and a few other Sony products. The Kindle service can be used on most smartphones and tablet computers.
The decision to open distribution to non-Sony devices is being interpreted as a sign that Sony is shifting its focus from driving sales of the dedicated e-reader to sales of e-books.
“We want to attract many users and increase sales from content distribution,” a Sony public relations official said.
The Reader Store will become available on Sony’s Xperia series smartphones at the end of June and on other companies’ smartphones and tablet computers from autumn.
Toshiba Corp., Sharp Corp. and other companies started e-book services after Sony. Most have made their books available on other companies’ devices.
(This article was written by Junichiro Nagasaki and Takashi Kamiguri.)
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