A New Chapter for eReaders? Not Quite...

POSTED BY Global Administrator
A unique selling-point of eReaders has always been, and remains electronic ink, but a number of developments raise the question about whether a new chapter (if you’ll excuse the pun) is about to begin for this market. Most importantly, while the iPad is re-defining the portable computer on a higher-priced plane, tablets at lower price points are moving into eReader territory. French vendor Archos, for example, through its Arnova brand, has announced a launch price of €99 (~$142) for a 7-inch device, while its older 7 Home tablet is retailing at £75 (~$122) in the UK. While lower-cost tablets are fitted with less-responsive touchscreens, our industry sources tell us that superior capacitive technology (found on high-end devices like the iPad) will soon be cost-effective at these price points – and this is evident from the price point of Amazon’s Kindle Fire ($199). Barnes & Noble has already switched to LCD on its Nook Color, and the device runs on Android – a smartphone/tablet OS – and consequently supports Android apps. Where does this leave eReaders? Importantly, both retailers continue to offer electronic ink eReaders. Furthermore Amazon has expanded its range of eReaders, in terms of price point (as low as $79) and technology (adding a touchscreen version). The crux of the matter is, there is no one-size-fits-all device, and there will be a market for the dedicated eReader for some time. That’s why we’re forecasting eReader shipments will reach 67 million by 2016 in our latest report – a threefold increase on 2011. But at that time, or soon after, we could see the confluence of the two markets, as hybrid displays emerge providing the best of both electronic ink and LCD displays.