Some analysts have been predicting a continued drop in ereader sales as more and more people switch over to tablets, but not everyone thinks that will happen. The chairman of E-ink has gone on record with his prediction that global demand for ereaders will increase in 2013.
Yeah, I don’t believe it either.
Digitimes is quoting Scott Liu as saying:
Demand for e-book readers in the North America market will have mild growth in 2013, while demand in Japan, Europe, Brazil and emerging markets will continue to see a boom
E-ink reported that revenues were up in December, gaining about a percentage point over November and increasing 141% over December 2011. Consolidated yearly revenue was down 30% in 2012 when compared to 2011.
The sudden spike in revenue in December is attributed to orders placed in the second half of the year as the major ereader makers prepared for the fall launches of the Kindle Paperwhite, Kobo Glo, and other devices.
In spite of the spike in revenue, I think Mr. Liu is being overly optimistic. The ereader with an E-ink screen was a niche product that survived so long as there was a need which LCD tablets could not fill: battery life. Once the battery life problem was solved (first by Apple and then by everyone else) the ereader suddenly became a lot less appealing as consumers decided they were less willing to put up with the compromise of a grayscale screen, too-slow-for-video refresh,and limited functionality. There will likely always be some ereaders sold, but even I expect that tablet sales will dwarf ereader sales from here on out.
In fact, I would bet that when Pew releases their survey data on post-Christmas gadget ownership we’ll find that there was a small seasonal bump in ereader ownership and a larger jump in tablet ownership.