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Pricing hinders e-reader spread

tech reviews Updated: May 18, 2010 00:44 IST

Electronic book readers and tablet PCs, known to be niche products for technology geeks, are set to become mass-market devices in this decade, a survey by the Boston Consulting Group has said.

According to the online survey of nearly 13,000 consumers spanning 14 countries, including India and China, e-readers and tablet PCs could become established consumer products alongside televisions, personal computers and mobile phones such as the BlackBerry and the iPhone, but only if their prices drop dramatically.

Within the next year, as many as 28 per cent of all respondents and 51 per cent of those familiar with these devices plan to purchase an electronic book-reader or a tablet PC, claims the survey. E-readers, or electronic book readers, have been around for several years, but gained critical mass only in the late 2007 when Amazon introduced the Kindle, which has gone onto become an instant hit.

This March, the technology major Apple countered with the iPad tablet recently, which is able to perform many tasks besides reading, such as Web browsing, video viewing, photo-sharing, and e-mail. Within three years, a whopping 49 per cent of all respondents and 73 per cent of those familiar with the devices plan a purchase, the survey revealed.

“The survey suggests that e-readers and tablets are not a niche product for early adopters but could become the MP3 players of this decade. Grandmothers will soon be carrying them around,” BCG’s media practice global leader John Rose said while releasing the survey findings.

Consumers clearly want to do more than just read with these devices as 66 per cent of the respondents globally would prefer to buy a multipurpose device, as against a minority 24 per cent who prefer a single-function device, said the survey, adding, however, acceptance of e-readers and tablets is not guaranteed unless prices drop dramatically.