eReaders Blog

The Future Of Reading

e-reader sales to peak at 14 million units in 2013

Posted by admin on May 27, 2010

Increased competition from the iPad and other consumer electronic devices to limit market for e-readers

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According to the latest research from Informa Telecoms & Media e-reader sales are expected to peak at 14 million in 2013, before falling by 7% in 2014 as the segment faces increased competition from a wide range of consumer electronic devices. This decline will be driven by a shift away from dedicated e-readers towards other multifunction device types, notably mobile phones and tablet-form-factor computing devices including the iPad. This is likely to lead to a segmentation of the e-reader market into two groups; low price, low feature models and higher price devices with advanced features.

“In its current incarnation, the e-reader offers a good reading experience, high levels of portability and great battery life. However, it is under threat from the availability of electronic book (e-book) content on multifunctional devices such as mobile phones, tablet computers, netbooks and other portable consumer electronic devices. Apple’s iPad, available in the UK market this week, is perhaps the highest-profile competition for dedicated e-readers. Mobile broadband e-readers will also face competition from much cheaper non-connected models that are targeting a lower retail price in order to stimulate adoption,” comments Gavin Byrne, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

“This is a real a wake-up call for e-reader vendors and will force them to improve both their products and their communications about the benefits of owning a dedicated e-reader. We believe this will cause the market to segment into two different groups – low price, low feature and high price, advanced feature models,” he adds.

In order to survive, there are a number of approaches that vendors can take. They can develop low-cost e-readers with minimal features that can be used in conjunction with a PC or USB dongle to access additional content. For example, e-readers like the Kobo (US$148), may appeal to the cost-conscious reader and its price point is further sweetened by the inclusion of 100 classic titles on the device.

Alternatively, they can improve feature sets in mid and high-end e-readers to transform them, over time, more into tablet computing devices. These will in effect become more like smartbooks than e-readers. Early steps in this direction include Barnes & Noble’s latest software update for the Nook which adds games and a more open web browsing functionality. Many e-reader companies are already looking to develop an electronic reading platform, initially based on their e-reader devices, but that will extend across e-readers, mobile phones, netbooks, note-books and desktop PCs.

“There are certainly a number of things that vendors can do to counteract this growing threat. However, the current absence of an obvious subsidy model for mobile network operators , the launch of the iPad and market dynamics are likely to limit the market in the long-term. Overall Informa Telecoms & Media is sceptical about the sales growth for mobile broadband e-readers,” concludes Byrne.

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