October 07, 2009, 7:50 AM — Amazon fired its latest salvo in the ever-intensifying e-reader war last night, when it dropped the price of the Kindle 2 by $40 (to $259) and announced an international version for $279. Aside from using different wireless carriers, the international version hardware is identical to the U.S. version. According to Cnet the international version will have access to a selection of 220,000 English-language books compared to 350,000 available to U.S. customers.
Suddenly Sony's upcoming Reader Daily Edition seems outrageously expensive at $400. The Daily has a slightly larger screen (7" compared to the Kindle's 6") and there's the library factor to consider (the Reader Daily Edition will allow users to borrow books from some public libraries) which could lead to savings that quickly surpass the price difference between the two devices, but that's a hard angle for Sony to market in an ad. We've seen other Sony divisions be quite stubborn when it comes to pricing hardware; it'll be interesting to see if they stay on track to launch their new Reader at a price point $140 higher than the Kindle.
IREX is in the same boat with their $400 DR 800SG e-reader. It doesn't have the library angle, but it does have a larger screen than the Kindle or the Sony Daily Reader, at 8". Both the Sony and the IREX are supposed to be available at Best Buy stores, which means sales and coupons could factor in, plus there's the immediate gratification factor.
If the e-reader is as hot a holiday gift item as the pundits (and surveys) say it will be, the next few months should offer an interesting battle. Amazon vs Sony, with a few smaller combatants thrown in to keep things interesting. Anyone care to wager on a winner?