Without question, the electronic book reader market is one of the most exciting segments in today’s consumer electronics industry. In 2009, an array of e-book readers was introduced, partnerships were announced and sophisticated features were added to the devices. The question is, how big will this market become in 2010 and going forward.
According to In-Stat market tracking agency, standalone e-book reader shipments will grow from 10 million units by the end of this year, to 28.5 million in 2013. The company expects the competition in the e-book reader market to increase over the next year.
With Barnes & Noble, Sony and other manufacturers entering the market, the current leader Amazon is going to have to look over its shoulder this year. Also, it is inevitable that price points for e-book readers will fall, but more importantly, prices for connected e-book readers should fall. This is important because consumers are really demanding these connected devices. Finally, advanced features, like color and touch screens, will crop up in the next generation of e-book readers. Features like color will open up new markets, particularly in education and businesses where graphic intensive applications are the norm.
On a related note, In-Stat’s Mobile Internet Device (MID)/tablet forecast shows shipments reaching approximately 16 million in 2013, up from 2.7 million this year. While the MID/tablet market is expected to be smaller from a unit shipment standpoint, we do need to consider the impact Tablets have on e-book readers. This is because convergence is occurring at a more rapid pace than ever. Mobile phones have effectively absorbed music, video and navigation; and the support for eBooks can be absorbed easily in competing mobile devices. In fact, tablet OEMs are pushing their next generation devices as potential e-book readers; and the Apple iPad is shipping to great success.
The differences between the two device segments will blur, believes In-Stat. They will be defined by either application or the device itself. But no matter the nomenclature, there’s a huge opportunity for this class of devices: portable multimedia devices that are light weight, and incorporate color, video and touch capability.