Note that there’s been no official statement from Sony, so at this point all I have to go on is the lack of availability, a second hand report from the UK, and my own wild guesses. Here’s what I know.
Update: I have received an official denial from Sony: “The Touch is not discontinued. It just sells faster than we can stock. We’re expecting additional shipments shortly.”
The PRS-650 is no longer available through the US Sony Style stores, and the store staff cannot say when it would be back in stock. It’s also no longer available from any major retail location in the US. In fact, it’s not even listed on the websites of Wal-mart, Borders, or Best Buy.
There is also a post on MobileRead from earlier today which mentioned that the Touch Edition was no longer in stock in Sony Style stores in the UK.
I went into my local Sony shop today and inquired about the PRS650. None in stock and none to come, it was marked as ‘End of Life ‘ on their computer. It was still listed as current in the 2011 shop trade catalogue. The salesman didn’t know of a replacement.
I also took the time today to visit my local Borders, and the specialist I spoke to is not expecting to see more Touch Editions in stock. She also said that the only times that an item is removed from the website is when it is no longer available.
So why did Sony discontinue this eReader? There are a couple possibilities.
The Borders specialist speculated that a new model was coming, and she could be right. Wifi would be a great addition to the Touch Edition, and it would really increase the value. But I don’t think that’s what has happened.
I think the Touch Edition has simply been discontinued, not replaced. It’s only 6 months old, and Sony has always followed a yearly update schedule. It’s too early to abandon the existing model – if it’s still selling well.
I think the Touch Edition was discontinued because its sales were being undercut by the Pocket Edition, which has a 5″ screen and all the same features of the Touch Edition. Customers would look at both eReaders, note the price difference, and get the cheaper model. After all, the difference in screen size is relatively minor.
I also think the Touch Edition was dropped because it simply cost too much. It couldn’t compete with the much cheaper Nook, Kindle, or Kobo eReader.
But there is a chance that a new model is coming, so let’s wait for the response from Sony.