Global shipments of e-readers will reach two million units in the first quarter of 2012 — down dramatically from nine million shipped in Q4 2011, according to new data from Digitimes Research.
It appears that color tablets, including the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet and Nook Color, are luring eReader customers away from less expensive, less flashy e-ink models. Digitimes Research calls the phenomenon a “substitution effect,” one that has forced Amazon to reduce orders of e-ink eReaders from its suppliers thus far in 2012.
The big-picture view of the eReader market isn’t dire, however. Global shipments of eReaders climbed to 22.82 million units in 2011 — up 107 percent from a year earlier. And annual eReader shipments should exceed 60 million units by 2015, Digitimes Research estimates.
There’s only one company that knows the truth.
And it’s not Amazon.
It’s Barnes & Noble.
Not one day passes at this blog without people coming here via search engines looking for information about rooting the eInk-based Nook Touch.
Out of all the eInk devices, it’s the only one that can be rooted to become an Android tablet and run many apps.
Although the new Sony Reader is now Android-based and can be rooted too, it has problems with some apps that run fine on the Nook Touch. I’m convinced that someone at Sony saw what was happening with the original Nook and rooting and decided Sony should try to get a slice of that cheese too.
What’s astonishing is that the otherwise astute Bezos didn’t see that, missing the chance of stealing away Barnes & Noble’s customers with an Android-based Kindle Touch. It would have grown Amazon’s market share while the rooting would have allowed Nook customers to preserve their investment in Nookbooks by running the Nook Android app. Instead, the opposite is happening. People are passing up the Kindle, buying a Nook Touch, rooting it, and using the Kindle Android app!
The one company that has a shot at challenging Barnes & Noble in this rooting contest is Kobo. It’s weird that the Vox has Android while the Kobo Touch does not. Where’s the sense in supporting two OSes? The Kobo Touch is also a sleeker package than the Nook Touch. It lacks the Android hard buttons, but even those using a rooted Nook Touch seem to be satisfied using the on-screen Button Savior and not the four side buttons for Android functions.
So do I think LCDs are killing eInk?
No, not yet.
Not as long as people keep winding up at this blog — far from the mainstream of things — looking for Nook Touch rooting information. Those are people moving away from LCDs to eInk due to better battery life and less weight.
So until Barnes & Noble announces a dramatic drop in Nook Touch sales, eInk isn’t dead yet.