Forget Amazon’s Kindle or the Sony Reader. While manufacturers jockey for
position, the real winner in this battle is going to be E Ink.
Market researcher DisplaySearch predicts sales of e-paper
will skyrocket from $431 million this year to $9.6 billion by 2018. That’s
chiefly because the vast majority of eReaders on the market use the same
underlying technology – an electrophoretic display developed by E Ink that
simulates the printed page.
There are roughly 20 eReaders on the market these days and
the number is increasing. IREX announced earlier this week that it would launch
an 8.1-inch eReader that would tie into Barnes & Noble’s catalog, making it
one of the largest potential threats to the Kindle.
DisplaySearch expects 22 million eReaders to sell this year,
but predicts that number will jump to 1.8 billion within 9 years.
As I mentioned in my review of the Kindle last month, it’s a
decent machine that does a good job of simulating the book experience, but the
price is much, much too high still. Sony and IREX are leading the charge to
make competing products, but so far consumers are more curious about the tech
than eager to begin using it.
If e-paper sales are going to reach that level, the price either
needs to start falling fast or manufacturers of eReaders are going to have to
finding ways to supplement their offerings.