Kindle's Success Encourages E-Paper

Amazon's Kindle e-book reader has caught on with early adopters the way Apple's iPod did, says a new report on the future development and commercialization of low-power "electronic ink.

According to a new NextGen Research study, "e-Book Readers and Electronic Paper: Digital Content and Display Technologies Kindle New Markets," the global market for e-paper displays will grow at a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 124 percent from 2008 through 2013, and will exceed $2.5 billion by the end of that period.

The U.S. will constitute fully 80 percent of this market at the outset, but increasing use of e-paper in other parts of the world will reduce the U.S. share of the market to about 55 percent by the end of the forecast period.

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"E-Reader makers will have to appeal to more than just early adopters and business travelers," says study author James Belcher.

"Consumers have read books printed on paper for hundreds of years, without having to endure the multiple format changes seen in recorded music. Getting the bulk of consumers to change that behaviour will require an experience superior to that of the printed page."

Belcher suggests there also are cultural and behavioral changes to consider:

  • Do readers want a device dedicated solely to reading, or would they prefer one with multiple functions?
  • How will netbooks and mobile phones capable of displaying digital texts affect the market for dedicated readers?
  • Is reading on printed paper a preference or a habit?
  • Will e-reader makers have to contend with a generation gap, with full market penetration dependent upon younger readers with no affinity for traditional paper?
  • "These are all open questions," he said, "but they will need answers to grow the market beyond its initial successes."

    "There will come a day when electronic paper is cheap enough to use on billboards and outdoor signage, which represents square miles of potential sales," said Belcher.

    "Until then, digital book readers will be the main drivers of e-paper market growth."

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