Convergence with tablets and a ceiling on consumer interest slow ereader growth
December 2011 research from Verso Advertising and Burst Media shows significant growth in the population of ereader owners—but also in the group saying this is a device they are likely never to buy.
Nearly 16% of US internet users surveyed said they had an ereader in December 2011, double the number who said the same a year earlier and more than five times as many as said so in December 2009. But as more users have made ereader purchases, the number of people who plan to purchase one is shrinking, along with the number of those who are unsure. As those likely to purchase an ereader do buy one, the “unsures” are swinging into the “not at all likely” camp. In 2011, for the first time, more than half of respondents said that ereaders were probably not for them.
The rise of tablets has not helped the ereader market, in large part because those devices have greater functionality. Ereaders appeal to a more specialized audience—heavy readers, especially those with concerns about eyestrain or glare—as well as consumers more inclined to buy a limited-functionality device in exchange for a price point far below that of a tablet.
But for the average consumer, tablets seem to hold greater appeal—and as their prices come down, including through lower-end tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire, fewer web users will likely see the point of a device that does little more than display text.
eMarketer estimates 33.3 million US adults used ereaders at least once per month in 2011 and that figure will rise to 45.6 million by the end of this year. Growth rates are dropping quickly, however, from 162.1% in 2011 to 37.2% this year, and as low as 5.8% by 2014.
The tablet user population, by contrast, is expected to continue to see stronger, double-digit growth throughout eMarketer’s forecast period, reaching 89.5 million US users by 2014.
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Check out today’s other articles, “Does ‘Liking’ a Brand Drive User Loyalty?” and “UK Ecommerce to Defy Tough Economy in 2012.”