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Sony Abandons Proprietary Ebook Format For EPUB

In a bold move, Japanese manufacturer Sony has dropped its own proprietary ebook document format and pledged to adopt the ePub open format.

Most Sony ebook readers are capable of reading the ePub format but Sony went a step further saying that all the ebooks in its online store will be converted by the end of the year.

The move is the clearest sign yet of Sony's will to catch up with Amazon in the booming e-reader market before the arrival of other players like the rumoured Apple Tablet.

The move though doesn't mean that the new format will be free from DRM protection. Sony will still use Adobe's COntent Server 4 (ACS4) to prevent illegal copies of ebooks from being distributed.

Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading business division, said in a statement that the decision will allow rivals' devices to read ebooks from Sony's store and vice-versa.

Sony launched two eBook readers earlier this month and pegged their prices lower than Amazon's popular Kindle range.

Furthermore, the consumer electronics giant has apparently dropped the price of its existing e-reader like the Sony E-Reader PRS-505 to around £150 (opens in new tab). The Amazon Kindle is not currently available outside the US.

Sony has been a major party in a number of high profile format battle. It lost the Betacam one against the VHS, lost the DAT and the Minidisc against the CD, won in the Blu-ray war against Toshiba and saw its ATRAC and Memory Stick Pro formats being trounced by MP3 and SD technology respectively.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.