As one might expect following a personal electronics show the size of IFA, there hasn’t been much in the way of new announcements in the world of electronic readers, tablets and devices. A few have trickled in, but the news this week is dominated by forecasts about the future of e-reading. It seems that at least three different forecasts predict strong growth in the ereader market.
These forecasts not only predict a growing number of devices being used by consumers, but also a growing amount of online content to feed those devices. Taken together, these projections create an optimistic short-term picture for the ereader market.
Turning to this week’s news: we’ve got announcements from Elonex, Ectaco, and Velocity Micro, as well as an update on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Elonex launches nine Android tablets
If mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery, then consider Apple officially blushing from the release of nine different Android tablets from manufacturer Elonex. Announced during the IFA electronics show, these devices all share a striking similarity to the Apple iPad.
The devices will be affordable. The expected price range for the smallest device, featuring a five-inch screen, is around $125. The top-end, 10-inch model will be priced around $200.
Few details are available about the internal specifications of the devices, but the new seven- and 10-inch eTouch devices have been seen with a USB keyboard and case combination that gives the tablets the look and functionality of full-fledged netbooks.
Samsung plans Galaxy Tab U.S. event
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Samsung will introduce the Galaxy Tab to the North American market this week. With fresh deals with Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and AT&T, the Android-powered Galaxy Tablet will likely retail between $200 and $300. Of course, the final pricing will depend on whether carriers decide to subsidize the devices in exchange for 3G contracts.
Velocity Micro Cruz runs Android, but doesn’t connect to the Market
This week, the Cruz Reader will reach store shelves and begin shipping from the company’s website. The seven-inch tablet will run Android 2.0 and it comes pre-loaded with the Kobo e-book application from Borders. List price for the device will be about $200.
While the device will be capable of browsing the web, watching videos, and playing games, it will not come with access to the Android market place. Instead Velocity Micro will include their own Cruz Market for applications. For connectivity, the Cruz Reader will support 802.11b/g and USB. The Reader will come with a bundled 4GB SD card, which is upgradable for more storage.
Ectaco goes small
jetBook Mini eReader rejects the recent trend of pushing the size of ereaders ever larger. Weighing only 5.8 ounces, the new ereader from Ectaco features a five-inch TFT screen and uses four standard AAA batteries. The jetBook Mini offers a SD Card expandable to 2 GB. The device can be pre-ordered now, with an expected shipping date of Oct. 1.
While market research differs, there is still strong demand for the ereader devices and that demand will continue to grow through 2014. These conclusions stem from two separate market research reports, one from Informa Telecoms & Media and the other from In-Stat. Although these reports share an optimistic short-term view of dedicated ereaders, the Informa research predicts that dedicated ereaders will peak in 2014 and give way to multi-functional devices like the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Bolstering the demand for these devices is a growing preference to obtain news from online sources. A recent report from the Pew Research Center for the People and The Press revealed that new technologies are slowly replacing print news consumption. Roughly a third of the public admitted to obtaining news online, and another nine percent would fall into that category if you included cell phones, email, social networks and podcasts. Overall, during the period of 2006-2010, the number of people who read only online news has more than doubled from five percent to 11 percent. During the same time, the number of people only reading print has plummeted from 34 percent to 21 percent.
Finally, Borders is following in Amazon’s footsteps and expanding the reach of their Kobo service on to the Kobo desktop app. The free downloadable application allows consumers to read e-books formatted for the Kobo platform, shop for e-books directly from the Kobo eBook store, and build a digital library of books. Kobo currently offers dedicated applications for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android, Android tablets, as well as the Kobo eReader. The desktop app is available for both Windows and Macintosh.