E-readers to lose out to smartbooks in battle of the tablets

03 September 2010

- Smartbooks to lead the way with over 50% of embedded device sales by 2014

- The smartbook is a new product category combining the best features of smartphones and netbooks, predominantly in tablet form factor

According to the latest forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media, sales of smartbooks are expected to rapidly grow from 3.65 million in 2010 to nearly 50 million in 2014, representing over 50% of all embedded device sales*. This growth will be driven by a shift away from dedicated devices like e-readers, towards multifunctional portable devices like the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. These smartbooks merge the best features of both smartphones and netbooks, plus they have the always-on connectivity of a cellular device.

"There has been a resurgence of smartbooks particularly in the tablet form, fuelled by the launch of the iPad, and we are seeing the same kind of proliferation and interest in tablets now, that we saw two years ago for e-readers. There has already been several tablet launches at the IFA show in Berlin this week, the most notable being the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab. We expect to see more launches at the show and over the coming months in the run up to Christmas," said David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

"E-readers on the other hand are under threat from a number of sources. Electronic book (e-book) content is now available on most multifunctional devices such as mobile phones, tablet computers, netbooks and other portable consumer electronic devices. On the device side, while the iPad may not be as ideally suited to reading as a dedicated e-reader, many users are finding that it works well enough as a book reader, in addition to its many other functions," added McQueen.

Price cuts by Amazon and Barnes & Noble have also taken their toll on the e-reader market. The list of e-reader makers who have been experiencing problems has grown recently and include many smaller players like Skiff, iRex and Plastic Logic.  Informa expects mobile broadband e-reader sales will peak at 14 million units in 2013, before falling by 7% in 2014 as the segment faces increased competition from a wide range of consumer electronic devices including cheaper non-connected models, like the Kobo and new Kindle WiFi. 

In addition to their multifunctional capabilities, smartbooks are the perfect candidates for distribution via the operator channel. If smartbooks were simply distributed in the same fashion as netbooks are today, some major opportunities would be missed - opportunities to strengthen operators' mobile broadband proposition, to validate smartbooks as a genuinely new product category and of course to promote smartbooks take-up.

"Pricing will be crucial to stimulate demand as will customer choice and competition, which is being driven by a number of leading device vendors now readying themselves for the launch of more smartbooks, many of which will undoubtedly verge towards the tablet design with touch screen, WLAN and 3G-connectivity," concluded McQueen.

Notes to Editor

*Informa Telecoms & Media defines an embedded device as one that has a built-in primary connection that is either one of broadband cellular or WiMAX, i.e. is not enabled by an external USB stick or "dongle". This will therefore also exclude devices that, for example, may have a Wi-Fi connection only.

For more information, please contact:

Denise Duffy

PR Manager, Informa Telecoms & Media

Mob   +44 (0) 7500 330826 

Email: denise.duffy@informa.com

Twitter: @informatm_pr

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Informa Telecoms & Media (www.informatm.com) delivers strategic insight founded on global market data and primary research. We work in partnership with our clients, informing their decision-making with practical services supported by analysts.

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Informa Telecoms & Media (ITM) conducts primary and secondary research on the latest trends impacting the mobile communications, fixed communications and TV sectors, on a global basis. ITM's market intelligence services  - World Cellular Information Service (WCIS), World Broadband Information Service (WBIS) and the Intelligence Centre - give clients access to market forecasts and key performance indicators (KPIs), as well as detailed analysis and exploration of trends.  These comprehensive and reliable data sources combined with access to a team of dedicated analysts provide clients with essential business tools to assist in their strategic and tactical decision making processes.

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