Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Japan by the numbers (06.15.10)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

 


Sony steps up its e-publishing game

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Coming to a briefcase near you?

Coming to a briefcase near you?

Just before the iPad hit the stores in Japan, Sony announced plans to once again enter the fray of e-publishing. The firm was burned back in 2007 when it was forced to withdraw their e-reader from the Japanese market due to poor sales. But this time, Sony is coming to the fight armed with a content deal that might just put a dent in iPad and Kindle sales. Sony is teaming up with Toppan PrintingKDDI and the Asahi Shimbun to form an e-book content distribution service that will offer readers a range of comics, magazines, newspapers and books. The content will be available to use in conjunction with the company’s new e-reader that is due to be released to the public before the end of the year.

Up till now, publishers have been a little leery of entering the e-book market, but there seems to be a growing acceptance in the industry of the inevitability of the growth of the sector. According to J-Cast, on May 21 a book written by editor and web designer Tashiro Makoto was published on the subject of the future of the e-book publishing. Makoto who has proved himself to be ahead of the curve in this field – he set up an electronic publishing company called Agora Books in March this year – believes that e-publishing doesn’t necessarily spell doom for publishers, agents and books stores but believes that the iPad will have a profound effect on the publishing industry.

It goes without saying that publishers will have to adapt to survive, but it’s not yet clear just how much content will cost and how many titles will be available on Sony’s device which is due to be released in Japan before the end of 2010.

Another fuzzy issue is just what kind of specs Sony’s e-reader will have; whether it’ll resemble the Sony readers already available overseas or be an entirely new product. Poor screen resolution, as well as glare when reading outdoors, also contributed to downfall of Sony’s last attempt at conquering the e-reader market in Japan. In order to stand any chance of success the company will have to address these issues as well. But for now, they seemed to have scored big with their content deal, whether rival publishers like Agora who offer content for the iPad mount a serious threat to them is yet to be seen.

The poor man’s alternative to iPad, Kindle, et al.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The EYE-reader is a good tool to display manga

The manga-friendly EYE-Reader

Any self-respecting geek knows that iPad is on its way to Japan. This week pre-orders of the ballyhooed device came flooding in and were subsequently halted due to the huge response.

But have you heard of the EYE-Reader? This weekend Japanese firm Samurai will throw their hat into the ring with the launch of a device that can be used as a photo frame, movie player and MP3 player. And yes, it is indeed an e-reader too, which boasts a matte liquid screen screen that makes it easy to read outdoors.  At 500 grams, it’s 180 grams lighter than the iPad. And the price? A mere ¥9,880.

Granted, the EYE-Reader lacks an EYE-store so you’ll have bring your own media, via USB memory stick or SD/SDHC cards.  Gizmodo reports that in a test drive it performed well when displaying manga but a closer inspection of the EYE-Reader’s specs, unfortunately, shows that it has a few limitations. Characters are not displayed as text but as images, which is all very well if you’re reading comics but a drawback if you’re trying to search for text as you would in a document. Also, PDF files have to be converted into JPEGs, the screen resolution is rather shoddy (the 8-inch screen displays at 800 x 600 pixels) and the two-hour battery time is a let-down, as is the six-hour charging time.

So, yeah, EYE-Reader is little more than a jumped-up photo frame, and we don’t see putting a dent in iPad sales. It does, however present an appealing alternative to the Kindle, which at ¥44,000 also displays manga as images but has only just begun to offer titles.

Gizmodo points out that at this price it would might be good for reading while on the toilet or in the bath. We have to agree.

Japan by the numbers (04.12.10)

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Which e-reader will conquer Japan?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

readers

The news that Amazon Japan will be offering the first Japanese manga on Kindle will be welcomed by a small cadre of dedicated e-reader fans. So what took so long? Part of the problem is that the Kindle’s default font only supports Latin-based letters so that device owners either have to use a hack to view Japanese characters or be able to read English. As the text in manga is displayed as an image, this ought to eliminate one problem, though users will still have to negotiate English menus to buy a title and be satisfied with monochromatic pictures.

So why isn’t Amazon too bothered with tailoring their device to suit the local market? Perhaps an answer to that question can be found in 2004 when Sony introduced LIBRIe, their first e-reader for the Japanese market. ITmedia News’ article explains that the product failed to spark the imagination of the Japanese public, who despite enjoying reading titles from their mobile phones, felt the technology wasn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing.

Due to poor sales, the Sony e-reader was withdrawn from the Japanese market in 2007, clearing the way for Amazon and other players. Despite this, in the U.K. and U.S., Sony’s e-readers are proving themselves strong competitors against the Kindle, both in terms of price and applications.

Continue reading about e-readers in Japan →

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