Amazon might have been the first to launch an e‑reader device that captured the attention of a significant number of consumers but its dominant position faces some serious threats. The 2007 introduction of its Kindle generated plenty of buzz and competitors. The book industry in general has suffered declines in recent years but Forrester Research sees the e‑book and e‑reader device market as a bright sector and expects it to grow. The research concern predicts about 1 million devices will be sold during the current holiday season and perhaps another 6 million units will sell in 2010.
All of these sales won’t go to Amazon however. Several other companies have introduced devices including Nook from Barnes & Nobles, Reader from Sony and Digital Reader from Irex. These marketers also have to keep Apple on their digital screens. According to Flurry analytics, the nature of applications released to the App store has shifted dramatically from July to October of this year. Books now represent 20% of the released apps while games have dropped from 17% down to 12%. This shift underscores a point made by Rotman Epps of Forrest Research: “[e]-readers are a transitional technology.” The long-term future of e‑reading may well be linked to the ever-evolving smart phone.
It’s too soon to predict the lifespan of e‑readers but as Rotman Epps also notes, “2009 is a breakout year” for these devices. Manufacturers and retailers will be increasing ad budgets as they battle for market share.[Sources: Rose, Adam. Kindle Killers? The Boom in New E‑Readers, Time, 10.11.09; iPhone Gets Serious about Books, Flurry, 11.01.09]