May 18, 2010, 2:32 PM

57% of consumers plan to buy a tablet or e-reader in the next three years

Within the next year 29% of U.S. consumers plan to buy a tablet or e-book reader, according to a new report. And in the next three years 57% of U.S. consumers plan to buy such portable devices that consumers can use to read e-books.

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Within the next year 29% of U.S. consumers plan to buy a tablet computer or e-book reader, according to a new report from the Boston Consulting Group. And in the next three years 57% of U.S. consumers plan to buy such portable devices that consumers can use to read e-books.

Sparking the growth, particularly for multipurpose tablets, is consumers seeking devices with multiple uses, says John Rose, Boston Consulting Group senior partner. For instance, Barnes & Noble Inc. recently released a software update for its Nook e-reader that allows users to surf the web. “Consumers want to do more than just read books,” he says.

Among consumers interested in purchasing a tablet in the next three years, here are the features they are looking for:

  • 90% want to use the device as a web browser
  • 86% want to check e-mail
  • 74% want to watch video
  • 65% want to listen to music
  • 58% want to view personal photos
  • 45% want to play video games

But before there’s widespread consumer adoption of tablets and e-readers the price of the devices must come down, says Rose. “If you look at the history of consumer electronic devices, a two-thirds drop in retail prices to hit mass adoption isn’t unusual,” he says. “It happened with CD players, it happened with VCRs and we think it will happen in this space as well.”

The survey found that U.S. consumers are willing to pay between $130 to $200 for a multipurpose tablet, according to the study. That’s far below the $499 entry price for Apple Inc.’s iPad and the $259 price of the Nook. For a single-purpose device, like Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle e-reader, consumers are willing to pay $100 to $150. That’s in line with the price of Borders Group Inc.’s Kobo eReader, which Borders plans to sell for $149.99. Amazon sells the Kindle for $259.

The survey also found that U.S. consumers are willing to pay between $5 to $10 for an e-book. That’s the price Amazon has long charged for many of its e-books, as well as the price of bestsellers in Apple’s iBook store. But it is below the $12.99 to $14.99 prices that publishers are seeking via the agency model taking hold in the e-book arena, which allows publishers to set prices.

The Boston Consulting Group conducted the web-based survey of 12,717 consumers in March.

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