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eReaders and Tablet Markets – The Story so far

Commercial tablets and readers have taken the market by storm. In the tablet category, the iPad certainly set the pace for what’s shaping up to be a hot sector.Electronics manufacturers have accordingly sought to capitalize on this trend by creating a range of new devices to access these media, which in some cases have further influenced and altered consumer behavior. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the most exciting trends of the eReaders and Tablet market.

Demand for e-book readers remained strong in first-quarter 2011, with global shipments soaring 236% on year to 4.8 million units. Global e-book reader shipments will reach 27 million units in 2011. Among the brand-name vendors, Amazon will continue to be the market leader with 60% share of global shipments in 2011. Barnes & Noble may hold on to second place, but its gap with third-place Sony will narrow. In just a couple of years e-book readers have turned from devices for the big pockets to machines almost anyone can afford, with recent price cuts having led to a strong competition in the $149 to $199 category.

North America will remain the biggest market for e-book readers, accounting for 72% of global shipments, but growth in the area is slowing down. E-book reader vendors are now aggressively expanding their presence in the Europe market, which is registering higher-than-average growths. Monotone e-book readers will remain the mainstream in the next three years, during which no breakthrough in developing color devices can be expected. Global e-book reader shipments will reach 63 million units by 2014.

Market Dimensions

The starting of 2011 saw a sale upsurge of estimated 10.3 million tablets and 6.7 million eReaders. As far as eReaders are concerned, the Kindle remains the most popular unit, followed by Barnes & Noble’s Nook.


Strong sales of Amazon’s Kindle, which was refreshed in August and priced more aggressively, as well as significant gains from competitors such as Pan digital, Barnes & Noble, Hanvon, and Sony among others, contributed to market growth. Apparently, people whose households net is $150,000 annually or more are more than twice as likely to report owning a tablet or eReaders.

Competitive Landscape

The competitive landscape has more or less stayed intact the way it was for FY 2010, with Apple taking a clear lead in the Tablet market. Samsung, Motorola, and perhaps now Sony all have entrants in the field, and time will tell whether the android-based devices will offer Apple as much competition on the tablet front as on the mobile phone front.


For single-use, high-price devices such as the higher-end eReaders, growth is certain to slow in the coming years as tablets and the larger smartphone gain popularity as reading devices, as well.

The Online-Reading Pie

In addition to facing competition from these traditional print publications and tablets with eReading capabilities, eReaders must also contend with PCs and smart phones, which are also popular among respondents for ebook-reading capabilities.


E-Readers and E-commerce

Shopping via tablets has become so popular that a new term has been coined -“t-commerce.” While only 9% of online shoppers own tablets, their behavior is encouraging for retailers. Consumers tend to spend more time on the Web after buying a tablet, and nearly half shop from the device, according to a survey of more than 2,300 consumers.

Tablet owners tend to be wealthier, which gives retailers a self-selected audience of their best customers. They may also be encouraged to spend by less tangible attributes: large touch screens that draw users into the content, and a portability that helps users get more comfortable than when surfing on PCs. While some eCommerce professionals may want to lump together tablets and smart phones as “mobile devices”, the data above on usage could revise this train of thought. Retailers may want to look at their industry and their own web analytics to determine what plan of action is necessary for portable devices.

Source: CBS Interactive, IDC, Nielsen, Forrester
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