E-readers may survive media tablet onslaught as niche play, says ABI Research report

    Eleven million eReaders are projected to be shipped globally in 2012. Down from a peak volume in 2011 of 15 million devices, the growing popularity of media tablets along with declining US baby boomer population and lack of organized digital bookstores outside of the US and Western Europe will reduce the eReader opportunity over the next five years.

    Regardless of the tremendous historical eReader success, the market tides have already begun to turn, says senior mobile devices analyst Joshua Flood. Despite the average tablet selling for more than $465 as a result of Apples dominant market position, tablets are expected to outsell eReaders 9 to 1 this year. Adds Mr. Flood, Nevertheless, the eReader market will not be totally cannibalized by media tablets. We believe there will always be a niche market for the dedicated reading device for voracious readers, business travelers, and educational segments, particularly ones that are low-priced.

    Over the next five years, annual eReader shipments are projected to drop by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1%. In contrast, global media tablet shipments are predicted to increase from approximately 102 million annual device shipments in 2012 to nearly 250 million in 2017.

    However, eReaders maintain advantages over media tablets for reading purposes. Electronic paper (ePaper) displays are able to better replicate the print reading experience and are usable in direct sunlight conditions unlike LCD technologies. The eReader battery life of weeks between charging is significantly greater than the media tablet. And of course, eReaders are priced significantly less than entry-level tablets.

    The decline of buying audiences for dedicated digital readers in the US is more rapid than the digital publishing ecosystems organizing for growth in Asia or Eastern Europe, says senior practice director Jeff Orr. Development of content digitalization systems and services in all world regions should continue without delay as the effort will be necessary for developing mobile app catalogs that provide easy search, discovery, and monetization.

    The report eReaders and the Digital Publishing Market provides further details on the eReader device and digital publishing markets. Tracking eBook Readers since 2007, ABI Researchs Media Tablets Research Service analyzes the technology segments affecting growth and segmentation in the global mobile devices marketplace and includes Research Reports, Market Data, Insights, and Competitive Assessments.