IHS Study Deems Tablets to Take the Place of E-Readers

December 13, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Reading books took a technological turn when people discovered e-book readers. Having one in our pocket meant never straying away from a cherished story, or more accurately from a many stories.

It’s only been a few years since these gadgets came into vogue, but it seems there is already a decline in their sales. IHS iSuppli Consumer Electronics Special Report says the the annual e-reader shipments for this year is on a fall.

Last year, the shipments were well off with 23.2 million units, but this is expected to drop by 36 percent, to 14.9 million units. Within two years, that is by 2016, IHS analysts predict that the shipments will further decrease to 7.1 million units.

According to Jordan Selburn, who is a senior principal analyst covering consumer platforms at IHS, the sharp growth and sudden tumbling of the e-reader market is quite unusual for consumer electronics. The sudden fall is attributed to the growing market of tablets.

The stunning rise and then blazing flameout of ebooks perfectly encapsulate what has become an axiomatic truth in the industry: Single-task devices like the ebook reader are being replaced without remorse in the lives of consumers by their multifunction equivalents, in this case by media tablets. And while other uni-tasking devices—like digital still cameras, GPS systems and MP3 players—also face similar pressures and battle dim prospects ahead, all have had a longer time in the sun than ebook readers, demonstrating even more painfully the depth of the ebook reader’s fall.”

As the tablet industry gets more vibrant with better technology and functionality, e-readers might find their customers shift to fully-fledged tablets. But these gadgets might not become obsolete as there would be a small customer base dedicated to the e-reader.

One reason that would help them stay afloat is that the prices get relatively cheaper every year. Researchers say that e-readers do better in Eastern Europe and Russia, as well as in the developing markets of India and Africa.

Also, the devices are incredibly portable, allowing users to tuck them into their jackets or bags and carry them around without much trouble. People find them useful to read at public places like a park or beach, or even while waiting at the bus stop.

So even though the e-reader market might not blossom in the coming years, it certainly wouldn’t diminish into nothing.

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