I worked in the semiconductor industry for about 5 years, for a company that makes the machines that makes microchips (Applied Materials
, if anyone's interested). I don't think that really gives me any insight into the cost
structure of making this sort of thing, but I have do some notion of the complexity
involved (which does drive the cost somewhat, I s'pose). I say that to give you a bit of context for this statement:
The complexity of making a few short lines worth of 7-segment display drivers, versus individually controlling 480,000 pixels on a display the size of the Reader's (remember, smaller means more complex, all by itself) is more on the order of a geometric increase in complexity.
Also speaking from the knowledge (it's come up a few times around here) that 6" pixelized e-ink display panels alone wholesales for around $100 per unit ....
In light of all those details, I have no problem at all accepting the notion that the Reader's display, and it's much greater complexity and functionality are a very large part of the reason that it retails for so much more than the Motofone. I'm quite sure that Sony is making a typical profit on it, but that's usually a percentage mark-up over per unit production cost.
You can each, of course, take all of that salted to taste.