Monday, May 31, 2010

Will Dedicated eReaders Survive the Mulit Media Push?

Last week Jeff Bezos stated that a colour Kindle was some way off and that he had "seen several things in the laboratory, but they are not quite ready for production." He also stated that Amazon intends to keep the Kindle focused on being a reading device. All very pragmatic and logic but are Bezos’s comments more about defending its city position against the Apple and positioning expectations. So we now have many rumours circulating claiming another Kindle is coming without touch screen or colour but with a sharper and more responsive display and will be thinner. We ask ourselves - so what?

Meanwhile the number of new ereaders grows and Sony have announced their launch into several new markets, including Japan, China, and Australia.

Research from Informa Telecoms & Media claim that ereader device sales will peak at 14 million units in 2013, before falling by 7% in 2014. Not surprisingly they based this decline on a shift away from dedicated e-readers toward other multifunction device types, notably mobile phones and tablets. They also conclude that the trend will lead to a segmentation of the e-reader market into low price, low feature models at one end and higher price devices with advanced media features at the other. The findings are understandable and point to some interesting potential opportunities for authors, publishers and resellers.

The envisaged trend is very similar to that previously seen in other media sectors. Prices fall as the technology gets adopted but also suppliers reduce cost by cutting out the frills and looking to supply the basics. MP3 players are a classic example where once relative expensive players have shrunk in price, size and functionality. What many thought was a selling point such as carrying your whole library around with you becomes a luxury and we move from an ‘iPod’ to a ‘Nano’. So what will happen when and if the ereader where to cost less than $100?

The one certainty is that mobile is a must and that would indicate connection is more important than collection.

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