While the tablet market seems to only have one real player making moves, it seems that book e-reader have made a dramatic jump in recent months. The Pew Internet Research company, part of the Pew Research Center think tank known for informational outputs on American trends, has just conducted a survey that indicates that the use of e-readers has almost doubled in the last six months.
The survey shows that between November of 2010 and May of 2011 the user of e-readers have jumped from between 6% to 12% of adult consumers in the U.S., though you may be able to put the number at around 13% now. This is a major shift with devices like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook bringing people into the digital reading market in a way that could never have been anticipated before.
This growth is tremendous when compared to the consistently low sales slate for the tablet market it is often compared to, which is still at around 8% of the market. This has often been blamed on a lack of devices that, besides the iPad, really has only included the Motorola Xoom, Galaxy Tab, and the Blackberry Playbook. Even amongst those the iPad has been reported to have anywhere between 85% and 97% market share, which doesn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t say a lot for the development. Things may begin to open up with the coming iPad 3 and the HP Touchpad, but they still do not seem to have the kind of appeal that the e-reader has achieved.
E-readers have always had a sense of popularity, and people could remember the Kindle release in late 2007 where all the devices cleared out in just a few hours. People can pick up one of these, with ads of course, for only $114. This does put it much less than the $500+ price of most tablets, but it really is built as a commercial device that does not stand alone from constant purchases. Many people cannot see the point to own a laptop and a tablet, and right now that sentiment may ring true for a lot of consumers. At the same time, the e-reader appeals to a very specific market that wants easy books yet does not want to jump into a trendy technical enterprise like the iPad.
Though consumers may be seeing the tablets and e-readers as a completely different enterprise, on a technical level there is no dramatic difference. With the Barnes and Noble Nook Color you see that it is founded on the Android OS and with the app store and various improvements there is not going to be much difference between it and many other tablets. Except that older book lovers will be much more inclined to rave about the free classics on the Nook rather than Angry Birds from their iPad.