IHS iSuppli reveals e-Readers are poised for explosive growth in the Developing World

IHS iSuppli recently outed a study with some projections that suggest that e-Readers made by companies that are not makers of content will see a decline in sales of the gadget in the next five (5) years. To be precise:

  • 36% decline in Global Sales in 2012
  • 27% decline in Global Sales in 2013

They’ve even produced a graphic to bolster this view of e-Readers:


Looks like Tablet may also be killing e-Readers too; add that to the hit-list already annunciated in my article How the Apple iPad killed Ultrabooks, Printing and the Mouse as the World Rediscovers Tablets. Worse, IHS iSuppli’s claiming the growth potential exists only in the impoverished Developing World, such as Second after market devices:

  • Eastern Europe
  • Russia
  • Africa
  • India

I’m surprised they didn’t mention the Caribbean and Latin America or even North Korea! However I’m still not buying this projection, based on only 2 years’ worth of real Sales data, despite IHS iSuppli reputation for gadget prediction.

InStat, another analyst back in June of 2011, had also mistakenly come to this conclusion, on the basis that Tablet can emulate the functionality of specialty gadgets such as e-Readers, which are mainly geared at reading books only. I had rebutted that argument in my article InStat prediction that Tablets to Overtake e-Readers is off base, pointing out that E-reader love among women is strong and growing ever since the Barnes and Noble Nook Color came out.

Women, who outnumber men in population numbers and well as reading, and are more into e-Readers than Tablets according to supporting stats coming from Forrester Research in July 2011, makes the case that (like duh-uh!) women do indeed read than men and thus prefer e-Readers as a gadget:

  1. 56% of Tablet owners are male
  2. 55% of e-Reader owners are female

E-Reader love has been growing and has potential to grow further; rare phenomenon for women to love the Barnes and Noble Nook Color as described by blogger Kelroy’s in his article Barnes & Noble’s new Android powered Nook Color, as women hardly love gadgets to begin with. In fact, if you see a female with any advanced smartphone, chances are it’s a gift, as in the case of Local Jamaican Broadcaster Regina Beaver, who’s the owner of an Amazon Kindle that was a gift to her from her brother.


To make matters worse, not only are there more women to begin with in the world than men, but there’s also the market for e-Readers among children and College Students want to get e-books at a cheaper rate or free via Piracy. Thus an untapped market not only exists in the Developing World countries as listed in their study, but also within their OWN back yard for e-Readers and by extension Tablets for Education, mainly to replace Hefty Books and Notebooks!

E-Readers are also evolving with additional functionalities, making them have Tablet-Like properties yet still retain their main functionality; a library for your Digital Book collection, as the typical e-Reader can hold thousands of books. There’s also the fact that Tablets are not too sun friendly or purse form factor friendly; E-Readers digital e-ink Technology renders pages akin to a natural book and from Day One, they’ve been 7” form factor. Large enough for reading but small enough to fit into your knapsack (college student) or purse (female)!

Finally their lower pricing point of US$199 will make them be desirable gadgets to have, despite the do-it-all capability of Tablets. In fact, e-Readers have put so much pressure on Apple that they’ve had to make a premium priced 7.9” Apple iPad Mini just to take advantage of the 7” e-Reader Niche but growing markets of College students and Women occupied by these smaller e-Readers as originally predicted in Amazon sells 5.5 million Kindle Fires in Fourth Quarter 2012 – Apple iPad sales drop and plans January Press Event.

Now I’ve mentioned Apple, I can draw a bit of inspiration from them as well. One can see the fact that despite the success of the Apple iPhone 5 in terms of sales and its ability to play music, make phone calls and access 3G and 4G LTE, the Wi-Fi enabled Apple iPod Touch is still a hot item this Christmas. By pure logic, smartphones should have killed off the device. But if you just want to play music and you NOT in the market for a Data or Phone plan that’s part of the Apple iPhone experience and you’re ok with Wi-Fi, then the Apple iPod Touch is the perfect gift for you.

Plus, its lower pricing point makes it a favourite for parents looking for an easily replaceable tech gift for their children. Thus, this demand by a younger Millennial [ages 18 to 28] generation for a device that works as advertised may be driving the popularity of such single function Gadgets for a long time to come; the same can be said for e-Readers.Provided of course as the maker of the e-reader, you can be both a provider of content (Apps, games and e-books) and a low-cost e-reader like Amazon, thus guaranteeing mass-adoption and have a business model that makes the bulk of your revenue from content sales.

In concluding, both InStat and now IHS iSuppli have got it completely wrong and backwards. In fact, I re-assert the conclusion of my article InStat prediction that Tablets to Overtake e-Readers is off base; the Death of the e-reader is totally exaggerated and in fact are poised for an increase, not a decline.

The Real World, to take a note from the movie Matrix (1999) is yet to fully utilize the potential of the e-Reader or even Tablets, now recently being credited with driving mores sales on Amazon as asserted in my article Amazon is Legally Blonde as the Kindle Fire HD Upgrade is CEO Bezos’s Confessions of an Online Shopaholic.

Tablets, despite their do-all bravado, will never overtake the joy one gets from reading books, as e-Readers represent the constant evolution of books and the fact that people do indeed cherish reading. They just don’t like heavy books, love carrying and reading lots of books and thus love the convenient form factor. High School and College Students, the as-yet-to-be-fully-tapped market in the Developed World, love them for the same reason as well as the reduction in the cost of books…..whether Pirated or Paid!

Throw in the Developing World and Latin America and the Caribbean and the expansion of VISA Debit Cards such as Scotia VISA Debit Card as described in ScotiaBank’s VISA Debit Card – Jamaica’s Online E-Commerce Renaissance and you have a potential increase in not only second Market Tablets but Brand New Tablets sales as well.

Thus IHS iSuppli study effectively reveals e-Readers are poised for explosive growth in the Developing World as the First World loses interest in Reading and fall in love with multi-function Tablets.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.