eReader Market Forecast for 2018 (January to June)
With Amazon about to ship a new Kindle and Onyx teasing new models, everyone is wondering whether they should wait for new devices that may or may not be in the pipeline.
In fact, I just got asked that question this morning:
Do you think there will be major developments in the world of ereaders next year? i.MX 7, ACep, other E-ink screen…? What does your intuition tell you?
Is that I like the new kindle Oasis… but I would hate that next year there would be important news.
My recent record of predicting new hardware is mixed (for example, I was only half right on my Kindle prediction from January). That’s why I am hesitant to speculate about what is coming next, but I can relate what we know is coming.
For starters, there’s no evidence to suggest that we’ll see amazing new tech showing up in ereaders. This includes
Freescale’s i.MX 7 CPU, E-ink’s color ACep screens, or the new and as yet unreleased screen tech from ClearInk.
Edit: I goofed; it turns out the new Kindle Oasis has an i.MX7 dual-core chip.
Yes, there’s all sorts of hype, speculation, and promises by component makers, but the simple fact is that no ereader maker has committed to using the tech in their devices.
Sure, new tech would be spectacular, but without a firm commitment from a device maker we might as well be talking about rainbows and unicorns.
Here’s what we do know is coming, and also what we can reasonably expect to be released.
Amazon is going to ship the new Kindle Oasis at the end of October. It has a 7″ E-ink screen, costs $249, and will be one of the two best ereaders on the market the day after it is released.
That Oasis is most likely the only new Kindle we will see this year, but a lot of hope being pinned on the Kindle’s tenth anniversary on 19 November. Many think Amazon will release a new Kindle on that day; however, there are no rumors or leaks to suggest that will happen.
Kobo’s latest ereader, the Aura One, features a 7.8″ screen and was released
about five months ago.
Edit: I goofed. The latest Kobo ereader is the Aura H2O2. The Aura One was released last summer.
There are no current leaks or rumors to suggest that Kobo is going to release a new device this year. That said, Kobo has a history of releasing a new device in the late spring or early summer, and I would expect to see one then.
This Chinese ereader maker is at the same time both the awe-inspiring and the most disappointing. Yes, Onyx has new devices in the works and they look awesome but we also do not know for sure when the new models will hit the market.
Not counting the (usually 6″) models launched in Russia, Onyx has three ereaders in the pipeline for the western market. According Onyx’s German retail partner, here’s what Onyx is working on:
- Onyx Boox MAX2 PRO (13.3″flexible Carta E-ink)
- Boox Note (10.3″ flexible Carta E-ink)
- Boox Canvas (9,7″ Carta E-ink with frontlight)
The Note and the Max2 are going to run Android 6.0 on a quad-core 1.6GHz CPU with 1GB RAM.The Canvas is going to run Android 4.4 on a 1GHz single-core CPU with 1GB RAM.
All three models will have both an electromagnetic stylus and a capacitive touchscreen as well as a speaker, mike, headphone jack, and USB-C.
Edit: And here’s something new: Booxtor, the German retail partner, said that Onyx had matched the Floyd mode on Dasung Paperlike Pro. Onyx has "implemented the Floyd-Steinberg Dithering". This is a different algorithm than what Dasung uses, and it’s not clear how they compare.
We do not know when the new devices will ship or how much they will cost. The official word, and I am quoting here, is:
There is no official schedule yet. At least Onyx doesn’t reveal it. Internally I was promised to get a small quantity of the first batch of new devices in the first weeks of 2018.
Barnes & Noble Nook
B&N stopped developing their own ereaders years ago, and now licenses them from Netronix. The last Nook model was released in 2015, and there’s no way to predict if or when B&N will license a new design.
Icarus / Boyue
Boyue (AKA Boeye) is a Chinese OEM and Icarus is a Dutch retailer that rebrands ereaders.
Boyue has an irregular release schedule, making it hard to predict when their next model will show up.
This Ukrainian company used to be one of the more innovative ereader makers, but they kinda dropped out of the race. They updated three models in the past three years but have released nothing new in that time.
I don’t expect to see new hardware from Pocketbook any time soon.
This brand from Poland’s Arta-Tech primarily licenses and rebrands 6″ ereaders from Chinese companies. It is hard to say whether it will release new models, but my guess is that they will not have cutting edge tech.
image by JeepersMedia
Juli W Monroe October 19, 2017 um 2:32 pm
When you say the new Oasis will be one of the two best ereaders on the market, are you indicating you think the Aura One is the other?
I do love my Aura One, but I was glad to see the new Oasis. I won’t buy one (at least not until my current Paperwhite dies), but I’m glad to see Amazon is still paying attention to eInk. It will be a sad day for me if eInk goes the way of the dinosaur.
Nate Hoffelder October 19, 2017 um 2:40 pm
At this time, yes, the Aura One is the other best ereader.
I don’t like it, though. I like the Aura H2O more.
Javi October 19, 2017 um 4:16 pm
Thank you for this article!
I don’t believe that Amazon has another Kindle on 19 November… 20 days after Kindle Oasis 2? improbable
Ros Jackson October 19, 2017 um 5:33 pm
Thanks for this summary. I have my eye on the Aura One when my Touch dies, partly because an ereader with a bigger screen appeals.
Frank October 19, 2017 um 5:35 pm
Amazon has a history of ignoring product anniversaries. However, Kindle is their oldest hardware that wil be ten years old next month so maybe they will have a sale on Kindles or a similar promotion.
John October 19, 2017 um 7:16 pm
This has been my concern as well. I’m eyeing the Max2Pro, especially for monitor reasons. The only problem is that’s a crap lot of money for a student budget. I know ClearInk is supposed to release something next year and their tech is supposed to be much cheaper than E-ink due to LCD layers. So I’m conflicted here. It’d be amazing if I were able to save that money
mdp October 19, 2017 um 11:53 pm
I would have guessed that Onyx’s implementation of Floyd’s is the impressive dithering we saw with the Onyx Boox Max Carta, which allows to watch video pretty well on E-paper and that which has better quality than the algorithms Freescale chose to embed in the EPD controller of the i.MX 6SoloLite.
For what the other algorithm/s that root into Floyd’s publications, and used by Dasung, I would be happy to obtain more information, because I don’t understand how "shortest path" applies to "minimal screen" update. Is it certain it is not, again, dithering?
Ingo Lembcke, Hamburg, Germany, EU October 20, 2017 um 4:23 am
Why wait? In buying new hardware your decision should be based on what is available NOW, what you can afford, what you need (or want). Like with Laptops and now to a lesser degree desktop-computers, there will always be the next thing just as a rumor or around the corner.
Waterproof/resistant, frontlight, 300ppi and more than 4 GB RAM so, that is reason enough for me to think about buying a new reader, 7″ or 7.8″ being a plus, if weight is ok.
Currently I am using two Kindle Voyage, one of them is showing signs of breaking down – frontlight has 2-3 bright spots, but these are only visible when that point is supposed to be dark and do not disturb me too much. Next week I will enter a Thalia shop and hopefully take a look the new Epos, weighing it in hand. I read a few comics and these are not so great on 6 inch eInk, I read them on an iPad mini (which is getting slow and the Memory is full, no new mini in sight).
So I might buy the Oasis 2 (do not like the asymmetric design) or the Epos. Do not like Kobo as a shop or as a company, but might take a look at their reader, but would really like to have one in my hand before buying, and currently there is no chance of that (Germany). If there where better reports regarding the Software I would take the plunge and buy a reader blind on import. As most of my ebooks are from Amazon for Kindle, even with DeDRM I lean towards the Oasis.
Nate Hoffelder October 20, 2017 um 8:49 am
Well, if someone wanted a 13″ device and knew for certain one was coming in December, they might wait.
This pot endeavors to remove the uncertainty.
BDR October 20, 2017 um 9:11 am
Kobo’s latest is actually the H2O2, released 5 months ago. The Aura One was released a year ago.
The KA1 is still the Best of Breed, though. I’ve ordered an Oasis2 but I’m not expecting it to replace my KA1. Love that thing.
Nate Hoffelder October 20, 2017 um 9:17 am
whoops, will fix
Sorry about that – they’re so similar that I got them mixed up in my head
Ana October 20, 2017 um 6:07 pm
Maybe now that they have developed new wink readers running Android 6 they’ll begin releasing new models with this firmware, I mean Onix and Boyue. The new models are these big 13″ and 10″ screens, so it might appear new 6″ and 7″ models.
mdp October 21, 2017 um 4:38 am
I am not sure I understood what you meant, but I will assume it could be rephrased as "If big screen devices will be released with Android 6, maybe also small screen devices will".
It is probably also a matter of cost. Android 6 may require more expensive hardware, of constant cost. 30$ in a 600$ device are 5%, but 30$ in a 150$ device are 20% of the total…
Ana October 23, 2017 um 4:57 am
Yes, that’s what I meant. And here in Spain, 6″ with Android cost 120 € aprox, not many, but some people will be willing to pay 30 € more for a more modern device, so they could try with a limited edition, and the costs would be reduced with time and more devices…
Hrafn October 20, 2017 um 9:18 pm
Being firmly in the 6″ camp (and likely to stay there until bezels shrink nearly to the point of non-existence), I don’t see much to interest me here.
But then again, it’s likely to be a year or two at least before I need to look at upgrading my current Onyx Kepler Pro.