STAMFORD, CONN. —
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 technology.
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 year.
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 thirdparty
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 stand-alone device.
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.”