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.