A new report by analyst firm Juniper Research forecasts that eReader shipments will reach 67 million by 2016, nearly triple the 25 million devices the company expects to reach the market in 2011. While this is less than half the 55.2 million tablets that will be shipped this year, the price of the market-leading Kindle has fallen significantly (from $349 to $79) since it was launched, and electronic ink technology will ensure that the device continues to carve out a niche for itself in the wireless device ecosystem.
Amazon’s foray into tablet space further enhances the business case for eReaders. Amazon recently announced its first tablet device, which many thought might signal a shift away from dedicated eReaders in its device strategy. However, in tandem, it announced three new Kindle models, two of which include touchscreen technology, borrowed from tablets, and now seen as a ‘must-have’ in mobile devices.
Report author Daniel Ashdown notes: “Amazon has done its homework: it knows there is not a one-size-fits-all device that makes everyone happy. While the iPad 2 – which it sells – is a premium tablet for Generation Y, Amazon has the wider market covered.” Amazon’s new range of Kindles (priced from $79 to $149) offer a range of options, and the Kindle Fire (priced at $199) offers a mass market alternative to the iPad and others. Barnes & Noble – another leading eReader vendor – is also covering its bases with the Nook Color, a touchscreen LCD eReader with an app store.
Juniper’s report has found that, looking further ahead, vendors are exploring hybrid displays which integrate both LCD and electronic ink technology. While LCD is superior for high resolution video, electronic ink provides a more comfortable reading experience and utilises less battery.