Sharp said on Tuesday it would launch an e-reader this year able to handle text as well as video and audio content, to challenge Apple and other rivals in the lucrative market.
The Japanese electronics giant said it had updated its e-book format with the “next-generation XMDF” platform, an advanced multimedia version of the XMDF format for text and still images that it launched in 2001.
“The next-generation XMDF enables easy viewing of digital content including video and audio and allows automatic adjustment of the layout to match and meet publishers’ needs,” the company said in a statement.
Sharp plans to begin the service and sell two types of e-readers, which resemble Apple iPhone and iPad, by the year-end in Japan and will also export the gadgets.
“Now there is a lot of attention on the e-publishing business,” said Masami Obatake, senior Sharp official. “Launching it by year-end will be good timing.”
Asked if Sharp can cope with the competition, he said: “Since we have a new system, I think we will be able to compete sufficiently.”
Sharp said it had already reached basic accords with Japanese publishers and newspaper companies on content, adding it would be open to further collaboration to establish e-book market.
The Japanese electronic book market is now estimated to be worth 46 billion yen (about $500 million).