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eReader Shipments Expected to Increase in 2013, E-ink Predicts

e-ink ballSome 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.

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Gary January 9, 2013 um 10:42 pm

Quote: "The chairman of E-ink has gone on record with his prediction that global demand for ereaders will increase in 2013."

The most important word here is **global**.

I think that gadget sales in developed countries are moving towards tablets, and away from dedicated e-readers. However, there are huge numbers of people in the developing world who have neither device at the moment. Some of these people will buy e-readers in 2013. Others will buy tablets.

So long as new e-reader customers in the developing world exceed the loss of customers in the developed world, total sales for e-readers will increase.

Does Pew even conduct surveys in Africa, Asia, and South America?

Nate Hoffelder January 9, 2013 um 10:47 pm

Unfortunately, no. They only run surveys in the US.

Mike Cane January 10, 2013 um 9:48 am

What he said. It’s entirely possible for eInk devices to drop dead in the USA while selling big in other countries. Although with cellphones being developed specifically for developing markets, even an eInk device could be seen as an unnecessary device.

Nate Hoffelder January 10, 2013 um 9:51 am

I still disagree. I predict that the developing markets will jump right past ereaders and go for cheap tablets.

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