Growth in UK ereader users is slowing faster than expected
According to eMarketer’s most recent estimates, the number of ereader users in the UK will reach 11.5 million in 2013. This marks a downward revision from our forecast last year, when we anticipated there would be 12.5 million users this year. While the number of ereader users will grow by over 20% this year, by 2015, growth will drop down to the single digits.
The limited uptake of ereaders has led device-makers to respond with aggressive discounting, leading to something of a price war. In June this year, high street retailer WHSmith began selling the Kobo Mini for just £29.99 ($47.60), and in September, Barnes & Noble joined the party by dropping the price of its higher-range Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight to just £49.00 ($77.78).
Such keen pricing is enough to turn anyone’s head, but the competition doesn’t just reside in the ereader space—and the discounting doesn’t stop there either. To many minds, tablets do what ereaders do, and then some. And with prices in the UK for entry-level tablet devices falling ever lower, the prospects for ereaders have never looked bleaker.
Data from Deloitte highlights the uphill struggle that ereaders face. In a May 2013 study, conducted by TNS, UK internet users were asked about their mobile device ownership, with respondents split into different age brackets. Across each demographic breakout, tablet ownership easily outstripped dedicated ereader ownership. Notably, among the youngest age groups, tablets led by two to one.
The tablet space in itself is becoming increasingly competitive, and as such, smaller, more affordable devices are beginning to flood the market. So open is this market that even a major supermarket chain, Tesco, has entered the fray with its 7-inch Hudl tablet. Priced at just £119 ($188.89), an initial store-card scheme additionally allows Tesco rewards members the option of doubling their reward card points when buying the device. With this discount bringing the tablet price down to just £60 ($85.24), the threat to ereaders is very real.
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