Stamford, Conn. – Connected e-reader sales are projected to hit
11 million units in 2011, according to Gartner.
The category has experienced massive growth since it hit the
market in 2009. That year Gartner reported 3.6 million units were sold and this
number increased 79 percent in 2010 on 6.6 million units sold.
Gartner defines this category as a portable device using E Ink,
e-paper or a similar display technology.
The research firm credited these sales increases to the generally
low-price attached to the e-readers, their long-battery life and solid display
Hugues De La Vergne, a principal research analyst at Gartner,
North America, said the North American region is the primary market for
e-readers and it will account for 4 million of the 6.6 million units sold this
The report noted the e-reader segment has become quite crowded
with competitors and there is a real threat it will become commoditized as
other products like tablets start to bring pressure onto e-readers.
De La Vergne said the three category leaders, Amazon, Barnes
& Noble and Sony, may start to face some serious competition going forward
from both inexpensive third-party vendors and the big PC firms, such as
Hewlett-Packard and Dell, which are working their way into the segment.
Media tablets pose the largest potential threat to the e-reader
category, and these vendors will have to counter the threat with adding more
functionality and marketing toward avid readers who would only want a
Allen Weiner, research VP at Gartner, said, “E-reader vendors
will also need to offer lower prices than for more fully featured media
tablets. This will entail smaller profit margins and potential hardware
subsidies at retail, and/or the ability to obtain lower-priced components. We
think few end users will buy both an e-reader and a media tablet, so it is
important that e-readers retain a price advantage.”