updated 03:25 pm EDT, Thu June 3, 2010
Sony sees digital reading inevitably taking over
E-books will be the dominant form of reading within five years, Sony's digital reading head Steve Haber predicted late Wednesday. He had estimated three years ago that it would take 10 years for e-readers to overtake print but now believes that was pessimistic and would take half as much time. Digital text has already passed a point of mainstream acceptance and can't help but get more important than paper, he said.
If publishers have been blindsided, it was because paper had the luxury of being unchallenged almost since its creation where music and movies had their environments disrupted earlier. "You haven't had a paradigm shift in, what, hundreds of years," Haber explained to the Telegraph.
The company prefers to work on dedicated devices like its Reader series for now, but Haber recognized that multi-role devices could work. He even revealed that Sony had been studying iPad owners' habits and that 11 percent of American owners bought it for reading first. Sony's executive also repeated the camera metaphor used by Amazon's Jeff Bezos to defend the Kindle, where some may work with a relatively basic camera on a general purpose device while others need a dedicated point-and-shoot or SLR for its quality.
Company-wide, Sony has taken a cautious approach to getting into the multi-purpose realm and is using Apple as a measure of interest in multi-purpose tablets before it joins on its own.