According to the latest market study by Juniper Research, they now forecast that eReader shipments will reach 67 million by 2016 -- that's nearly triple the 25 million devices they expect to reach the market in 2011.
While this is less than half the 55.2 million media tablets that will be shipped this year, the price of the market-leading Amazon Kindle eReader has fallen significantly (from $349 to $79) since it was launched.
According to Juniper's assessment, electronic ink technology will ensure that eReaders continue to carve out a significant niche in the portable wireless device ecosystem.
Amazon recently announced its first media tablet, the Kindle Fire, which many thought might signal a shift away from dedicated eReaders in its overall device strategy.
However, in tandem, it announced three new Kindle eReader models -- two of which include touchscreen technology, borrowed from tablets, and now considered as a must-have feature in many of the new devices.
"Amazon has done its homework: it knows there is not a one-size-fits-all device that makes everyone happy. While the Apple iPad 2 -- which it sells -- is a premium tablet for Generation Y, Amazon has the wider market covered,” said Daniel Ashdown, research analyst at Juniper Research.
Amazon's new line-up of eReaders (priced from $79 to $149) offer a range of options, and the Kindle Fire (priced at $199) offers a mass market alternative to the popular Apple iPad and other higher-priced media tablets.
Barnes & Noble is also covering its bases with the Nook Color, a touchscreen LCD eReader with an app store that includes many of the more common applications.
Looking further ahead, Juniper found that consumer electronics vendors are already exploring device convergence -- via hybrid displays which integrate both LCD and electronic ink technology.
While LCD is superior for high resolution video applications, electronic ink provides a more comfortable reading experience and utilizes less energy -- thereby extending battery life.