Fujio Noguchi, who supervises Sony's e-book business
Fujio Noguchi, who supervises Sony's e-book business

Q: Apple Inc, which has a reputation for its UIs, entered the e-book market with the iPad.

Noguchi: The iPad is not a product developed only for e-books. What they are practically saying is that various applications are available to the iPad and e-book is just one of them. It is different from what we aim for.

The name of our e-book reader is "Reader," meaning that it is used exclusively for reading. It is not a multi-media player.

The Reader Daily Edition is our first e-book reader that is capable of 3G communication, and we employed the wonderful business model established by Amazon.com. In other words, users do not have to pay a monthly communication fee.

On the other hand, the users of the iPad have to pay a monthly fee for 3G communication. In that respect, I don't think the business model of the iPad is innovative.

Q: Although it is dedicated for reading, users may require color display as contents diversify.

Noguchi: As for color display, its employment depends on the developmental status of color e-paper. I think recently developed color e-paper devices are suited for displaying movies. But I believe that color e-paper should be employed for e-book readers with a focus on displaying texts. So, we are sending such requests to e-paper device makers.

We consider that e-paper's capability of displaying colors is similar to that of ink-jet printers. Ink-jet printers, in their early days, used to soften paper being printed and could not print colors with satisfactory qualities. However, recent ink-jet printers can print out even gravure pictures with high qualities.

In the case of e-paper, too, it is difficult to display high-quality colors at first. But, as the market expands, its technologies will evolve.

Q: What do you think about Sony's reentry into the Japanese e-book market? Note 1)

Note 1) Sony launched an e-book reader and an online e-book store for it in Japan Dec 10, 2010.

Noguchi: Currently, we are operating our e-book business in eight countries including the US Note 2). And we will start the business in other countries after they pass certain standards concerning the quality and quantity of contents. Reentry into the Japanese market depends on whether Japan will pass those standards.

Note 2) Currently, Sony is operating its e-book business in 14 countries including the US and Japan (14th country).

(Continue to the next page)