e-Book Readers
This has been a good year for e-Book readers. Amazon launched the Kindle 2 (now just called the Kindle) which addressed some of the ergonomic complaints like a problem with the page turning button. Amazon also launched a larger screen Kindle called the DX. Sony introduced a new line of readers but the one most likely to compete with the Kindle, the Sony Reader Daily Edition with a 7 inch screen and 3G connectivity is due sometime in December. Barnes and Noble's entry into the field had a rocky start with a poorly reviewed and so far, unavailable reader called the Nook.

Over Promised and Under Delivered
This holiday season a lot of excitement was created around two potential competitors to the Kindle. Sony planned to launch the 7 inch Daily Edition and Barnes and Noble had their Nook. Much to Amazon’s delight (we’re sure), both products are struggling to get to market (as of this writing). Unless e-Book reader buyers are willing to wait, it looks like Amazon might walk away with most of the sales this holiday season.

Going to Be a Hot Product
Whoever ends up with the lion's share of the e-Book reader market should have a good year. A recent Retrevo study found 21% of the respondents indicating they were planning on buying an e-Book reader this year.
Sony vs. Amazon
Sony has been trying for a while to create a hit e-Book reader. They recently launched a small, medium, and large version of a new e-Book reader. We'll be watching how the new Sony readers, Barnes and Noble Nook, and others from companies like Spring Design, IREX and Plastic Logic. When we asked e-Book buyers which device they were going to buy Amazon ran away from the pack with 62%.
Apple Tablet Could be an e-Book Reader Competitor

Rumors have been circulating all year about a handheld device bigger than an iPhone and smaller than a MacBook. Could a backlit, LCD-based multi-media device compete with E Ink devices with their super-long battery life and book-like reflective displays?

e-Book Readers in 2010
We predict a big year ahead for e-Book readers. Amazon should continue to dominate but if Barnes and Noble can recover from a rocky start, things could get interesting.

  • Look for things to heat up in the book format battle. Sony has just switched from a proprietary format to the open ePub format. Amazon will most likely stick with their proprietary AZW format but may accommodate open formats somehow.
  • Color e-Book readers are under development in the labs but who knows when they'll see the light of day, at least an E Ink version
  • The rumored Apple tablet could be a big game changer if consumers are willing to pay the premium and prefer a multimedia device. The iTunes Book Store should open for business this year.
  • Flexible e-ink displays have been demonstrated at trade shows. Imagine being able to unroll or unfold an electronic version of your local newspaper and download the funnies.
  • More e-Book reader manufacturers will offer a variety of sizes, styles and prices. There is already a list of e-Book reader venders like ECTACO and Astak with inexpensive readers. Asus is rumored to be developing a dual screen color reader.

It should be an interesting year for e-Book readers!

Next: Conclusion - Year in Review »
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Jennifer Jacobson
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