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Demand for E-readers, Smartbooks and Tablets

According to Informa Telecoms & Media, sales of smartbooks are expected to rapidly grow from 3.65 million in 2010 to nearly 50 million in 2014, representing over 50 percent of all embedded device sales.

This growth will be driven by a shift away from dedicated devices like e-readers, towards multifunctional portable devices like the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. These smartbooks merge the best features of both smartphones and netbooks -- plus they include always-on connectivity.

"There has been a resurgence of smartbooks particularly in the tablet form, fueled by the launch of the iPad, and we are seeing the same kind of proliferation and interest in tablets now, that we saw two years ago for e-readers" said David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa.

E-readers on the other hand are under threat. Electronic book (e-book) content is now available on most multifunctional devices -- such as mobile phones, tablet computers, netbooks and other portable consumer electronic devices.

Informa expects mobile broadband e-reader sales will peak at 14 million units in 2013, before falling by 7 percent in 2014 as the segment faces increased competition from a wide range of consumer electronic devices -- including cheaper models, like the Kobo and new Kindle WiFi.

In addition to their multifunctional capabilities, Informa believes that smartbooks are the perfect candidates for distribution via the mobile service operator channel. If smartbooks were simply distributed in the same way as netbooks are today, then some major opportunities would be missed.

These are opportunities to strengthen the operator's mobile broadband proposition, to validate smartbooks as a genuinely new product category and to promote smartbook's adoption.

"Pricing will be crucial to stimulate demand as will customer choice and competition, which is being driven by a number of leading device vendors now readying themselves for the launch of more smartbooks, many of which will undoubtedly verge towards the tablet design with touch screen, WLAN and 3G-connectivity," concluded McQueen.

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