Ross Rubin (@rossrubin) contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.
Last week, Sony introduced Reader Daily Edition, the latest and most advanced Reader in its 2009 lineup, and attempted to recapture the excitement around the category that it had at the launch of the original Reader but then gave up to Amazon. By adding 3G connectivity to the Daily Edition, Sony's answered the biggest perceived feature gap between its products and Amazon's e-reader.
However, far from playing me-too, the Daily Edition tells quite a different distribution story than the Kindle, from purchasing devices to the content. The $400 Daily Edition (a term that warmly evokes printed books and newspapers without being corny) will join the $300 Touch Edition and the $200 Pocket Edition. Of these, the Pocket Edition has the most near-term potential for success due to its greater portability and low price, particularly in these grim economic times.
Speaking of which, Sony seems to have picked up more positive buzz about its library integration for free book lending than it has for adding wireless to the line. For all the struggles of subscription services, consumers don't have any problems with renting content as long as it's free.