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As Tablets Surge, Ereaders Struggle

Despite strong demand for smart connected devices, consumers may be passing over ereaders

The connected device market continues to see substantial growth worldwide. The International Data Corporation (IDC) reported that in Q3, worldwide shipments of smart connected devices—a category that includes PCs, tablets and smartphones—increased by 27.1% year over year, to 303.6 million shipments valued at $140.4 billion.

With desktop PC shipments projected to hold relatively steady in the coming years (after declining slightly in Q3 compared to the same period in 2011), and laptop shipments projected to grow modestly, the focus is primarily on smartphones and tablets to drive continued growth.

Against this background of growth, however, one type of smart connected device is beginning to run into trouble: ereaders. IHS iSuppli projected in December ebook reader shipments to fall this year to 14.9 million units—representing a decline of 36% from 2011’s 23.2 million units shipped. The category saw explosive growth between 2010 and 2011, but evidence is mounting that the devices are falling out of favor with consumers enamored with the all-in-one potential of tablets.

In fact, 2011 might prove to have been the high-water mark for ereaders. IHS iSuppli predicted continued declines, with worldwide shipments falling to just 7.1 million units by 2016. A slightly more optimistic take comes from the Market Intelligence & Consulting Group (MIC), which projected worldwide ereader shipments to climb back to 23 million in 2016—just below where the category was in 2011, according to IHS iSuppli. But by that time, according to IDC, manufacturers will be moving 282.7 million tablets—still more than ten times the top-level projection for ereaders.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Convenience Draws Affluents to Online Holiday Shopping” and “Brazil's Robust Digital Ad Market Still Has Room to Grow.”

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