A new report from iSuppli, a technology supply chain analyst, suggests that sales of dedicated ereading devices have declined 36% in 2012 compared to the previous year.
2011 looks like it will have been the peak of the eink phenomenon. As the tablet market explodes though, consumers are ditching the single-use reader in favour of more capable machines.
Apple’s iPad Mini remains largely sold out across all territories, and Amazon claim their Fire tablet is now their biggest selling product worldwide (although they still refuse to release actual numbers, so that’s largely meaningless).
Combined tablet shipments are expected to hit 120 million for 2012, in contrast with slightly fewer than 15 million dedicated ebook reader devices.
As the resolution of smartphone screens improve, it is likely that many readers who may previously have been tempted by an eink device are using their ‘phone instead. By contrast, eink technology has remained relatively unchanged, the only real innovation being front lighting which improves legibility for some readers. Slow refresh rates and artefacts continue to be an issue though. With tablet prices decreasing rapidly, there are fewer reasons to choose an outdated single use machine.