Tablet shipments will outpace those of e-readers by 2012, according to a new analyst report.
Research firm In-Stat s survey of 1,000 U.S. respondents found that some 38 percent owned a tablet, versus 26 percent who packed an e-reader. Moreover, it estimated global e-reader shipments at 40 million by 2015, a significant number that will nonetheless be outpaced by tablets.
Of the two, the tablet market is the stronger and more sustainable opportunity, Stephanie Ethier, an In-Stat senior analyst, wrote in a June 20 research note. In fact, e-reader manufacturers will soon begin adding tablet-like devices to their lineups in order to take advantage of the tablet frenzy. Barnes & Noble already offers the Color Nook, which is often compared with a tablet, and Amazon, the leader in the e-reader space with its Kindle, will likely launch a tablet device later this year in an effort to compete head-to-head with the iPad.
In other words, tablets multifunction experience, according to In-Stat, will represent a stronger opportunity for suppliers and manufacturers than e-readers, which aim primarily at delivering an optimal e-book experience.
Whether tablets and e-readers are direct competitors is a matter of debate. Tablets certainly offer e-reading software, often through companies like Amazon, which also build e-readers. However, e-reader defenders argue that the devices offer a superior reading experience, particularly for long periods of time and in bright sunlight, as well as longer battery life. On top of that, steadily declining prices for devices like the Kindle and Nook have helped spur e-reader adoption in recent quarters.