Amazon, Sony petition FCC to recognize differences between e-readers and tablets


E-reader manufacturers Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Sony Electronics and Kobo are lobbying the FCC to exempt their devices from accessibility laws governing tablets and other connected devices.

The three companies, who've banded together as a single legal entity dubbed the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers, assert that e-readers are a distinct class of hardware "designed, built, and marketed for a single primary purpose: to read written material such as books, magazines, newspapers and other text documents on a mobile electronic device." Tablets, on the other hand, typically include support for email, instant messaging and other communication services, as well as color screens with "fast refresh rates sufficient for interaction and video," cameras and high-capacity storage for multimedia files.

The Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers argues that because e-readers lack the multi-dimensional functionality of tablets, devices like Amazon's Kindle should not be subject to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which mandates that equipment used for "advanced communications services (ACS)" should be "accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities." The manufacturers contend that if their e-readers are made to comply with the same rules overseeing the production of tablets, IP-enabled TVs, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and other ASC-enabled devices, it will detract from the core e-reader experience and drive up pricing.

The FCC is accepting public comments through Sept. 3. Article