Sony is to launch a range of upgraded e-readers in the US to challenge Amazon's Kindle.
The range of Sony Readers, priced from $180-$300 (£112-£186), looks set to launch in August, prior to the electronics giant's release of its first tablet computers later this year. The devices will come with hardware and software improvements.
Phil Lubell, vice-president of digital reading at Sony Electronics, said that it plans to continue to push e-readers because they are cheaper than tablets. In the US, the Kindle is priced from $114, compared to the iPad2's $499. Amazon yesterday dropped the price of its ad-supported 3G Kindle to $139. Earlier this week, iriver teamed up with Google to produce the iriver Story HD, the first e-book reader to be integrated with the Google e-books platform, which is priced $139.99.
Lubell said: "We think there will still be a market for dedicated readers as long as tablets remain in the $500 price range."
However Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Financial Group Inc in Tokyo, told Bloomberg: "Sony appears to be struggling to expand its e-reader business as fast as it had originally planned." He added it may be under pressure from the introduction of the tablets. "There are some overlaps between tablets and e-readers."
Lubell said Sony plans to incorporate its online book store and e-book technology into its two tablet-computer models, codenamed S1 and S2, later this year.