El Segundo, Calif. – The shelf life of the eReader could be coming to an end thanks to low-priced, multi-use tablets.
According to IHS, the eReader first hit the scene in 2006, and the industry saw shipments jump from about 1 million in 2008 to 10.1 million by 2010. The following year this figure more than doubled to 23.2 million, but since then the category has declined.
The research firm is forecasting a 36 percent decline in shipments in 2012 to 14.9 million units followed by another 27 percent reduction next year to 10.9 million units. Shipments should hit 7.1 million in 2016, IHS reported.
Tablet shipments, in contrast, will hit 120 million units worldwide this year and 340 million will ship by 2016.
Jordan Selburn, senior principal analyst for consumer platforms at HIS, pointed to the tablet as the primary reason for the eReaders demise.
“The stunning rise and then blazing flameout of eReaders perfectly encapsulate what has become an axiomatic truth in the industry: Single-task devices like the eReader reader are being replaced without remorse in the lives of consumers by their multifunction equivalents, in this case by media tablets,” he said.
Selburn pointed to other single-use products like point and shoot camera, GPS devices and MP3 players as facing extinction for similar reason, but he pointed out all of these enjoyed a much longer time in the limelight than the eReader.
IHS does see a few places globally where the eReader may survive, which will be primarily in Eastern Europe and Russia and possibly Africa and India where the eReaders long-battery life and low cost will prove beneficial.