Sony: Its E-book Business Different From Apple's

Dec 28, 2010
Yasushi Uchida & Takuya Otani, Nikkei Electronics
Fujio Noguchi, who supervises Sony's e-book business
Fujio Noguchi, who supervises Sony's e-book business
[Click to enlarge image]

*This article is a part of a story published in the March 22 2010 edition of Nikkei Electronics. And it is based on information available at that time.

"We are aiming to acquire a share of 40% in the global electronic book market in fiscal 2012," said Sony Corp, which has been leading the US electronic book (e-book) market with Amazon.com Inc.

We interviewed Fujio Noguchi, who supervises Sony's e-book business as deputy president, Digital Reading Business Division, Sony Electronics Inc, about the company's perspective on and strategies for the e-book market. (Interviewer: Yasushi Uchida & Takuya Otani, Nikkei Electronics)

Q: The e-book market is booming now.

Noguchi: As a market, I think it is still at an early stage. For Japan, off course, it is a promising market. And, in the US, which is taking a lead, the size of the e-book reader market is about several million units per year. It is relatively small, considering that the size of the portable music player market is 40 to 50 million units per year in the US.

However, from now, the e-book market will expand much faster than the online music/video delivery market did in the past. We have already gone through the digitization of music and video. We all understand that books will be digitized in the same way.

Q: In fact, various companies are entering the e-book market.

Noguchi: The number of newcomers surprised me. But how many of them are well known? Some of them have already exited the market. It is not that all the companies can survive. Only those who have a comprehensive strength including e-book readers and contents, the reliability of services and the ability to send messages to users will survive.

Q: As for e-book readers, it is becoming important to differentiate their operabilities and UIs (user interfaces) rather than the specifications of hardware.

Noguchi: For the Reader Daily Edition, we came up with various ideas to improve its UI. For example, when a link to a Website is clicked, it is highlighted. Actually, I asked designers to include this function.

(In the case of e-paper), the screen refresh speed is slow, and it is difficult to know if a link was clicked or not. Some users may click the link again. That's why I thought it is necessary to notify the user that the link was clicked. It is important for UIs to tell users, "I heard what you said."

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