Despite talk of drastic price erosion and strong competition from tablets, global shipments of standalone e-readers will grow from 12 million units by the end of this year to 35 million in 2014, according to research firm In-Stat.
In a statement Tuesday, Stephanie Ethier, senior analyst at In-Stat, noted that tablet PC shipments are taking off, fueled by the launch of the Apple iPad in particular.
"Yet, there will still be a revenue opportunity for e-reader suppliers and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) since tablet PCs and e-readers target different consumers," she said.
"Standalone e-readers will address the needs of avid readers, to whom the reading experience is central," she added. "Tablets are better suited for consumers who prefer a stronger multimedia experience, and only light reading."
While there have been talks of price reduction, stiff competition from Apple's iPad as well as other Android-based tablets, In-Stat pointed out that there is still buzz surrounding the e-reader market, and e-book devices will remain popular.
Meanwhile, e-reader price points will continue to fall over the remainder of 2010, with a US$99 model likely to emerge by the end of the year.
In-Stat also revealed that among the semiconductor devices used in e-readers, the ASP processor will be the most resilient over the forecast period, only declining 18 percent from 2009 to 2014. Despite significant increases in NAND flash densities, the dollar value of flash will decline 60 percent over the same period, it added.
In-Stat's findings on e-reader growth were similar to a May report by London-based analyst Informa Telecoms & Media. The latter's report, however, went one step further to predict that although e-reader shipments will peak in 2013 at 14 million units, sales momentum will drop 7 percent in 2014. This is brought about by multi-purpose devices such as the iPad, and improved smartphones and netbooks that are e-book friendly, said Informa.
"The current absence of an obvious subsidy model for mobile network operators, the launch of the iPad and market dynamics are likely to limit the market in the long-term, Informa analyst Gavin Byrne said in a statement.
The Informa report also forecast that cheap e-readers built without Wi-Fi capabilities will win over a significant portion of the market. These readers, which can read books from a memory card or a PC--via cable or Bluetooth--rather than downloading them over a broadband wireless network, will be significantly cheaper, since they do not require wireless networking hardware and software.