By 2006, the company was ready to try again with its Sony Reader PRS-500, a 6-inch device that used the same E ink display as the LIBRIé and boasted 7,500 page-turns worth of battery life. This time, however, consumers could actually purchase e-books to own from Sony's online store, which held around 10,000 titles at launch. The PRS-500 also shipped with a dock and USB connector in the box since downloads could only be managed by a PC and then transferred to the device.
Sony wasn't the only company trying to launch the e-reader revolution in 2006. E Ink devices like the iRex iLiad and the STAReBOOK were hitting stores around the same time. There were also rumors that Apple would try its hand at the format as well. Of course, the elephant in the room was Amazon's 2007 Kindle. Where Sony's initial release date for its Reader was pushed back by several months -- disappointing some eager customers -- the Kindle arrived on schedule and sold out online in just five and a half hours. Amazon's customers also had access to 88,000 e-books in the Kindle online store using Sprint's wireless network.
Although Amazon snagged a top spot in the hearts of e-reading consumers, Sony continued to develop its own hardware line over the years, logging more than 10 iterations and developing a loyal fan base. Despite this consistent effort, however, recent events, like the shuttering of its Reader store, indicate that Sony may be somewhat willing to cede the e-book category to Amazon. It now directs current Reader customers to the Rakuten-owned Kobo platform for e-book purchases.
This isn't the first time that Sony has pioneered the way into a new market only to lose its edge to a competitor; the same thing happened to its transistor business back in the 1950s.
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