Thursday, August 12, 2010

Welcome to the Era of Paperless Reading

Environmental Protection Drives Demand for e-Book

Printed materials are the number one way most people receive information. Nowadays, however, thanks to technological developments and increased focus on products that are environmentally friendly, the e-book has been one of the hottest products in the ICT field.

E-Reading: An Irresistible Trend
North America is the world’s fastest growing market for e-readers. It is estimated the market in the United States will reach 6.8 million units in 2010. Globally, 75% of e-readers are sold in North America. In addition to Amazon, Sony and Barnes & Nobles are also keen to increase their digital content. As of the end of 2009, consumers were able to access 2.85 million e-books. It is also expected that around 1 million e-readers will be sold in China this year.
According to DisplaySearch, the popularity of e-books, particularly Amazon’s Kindle, increased electronic paper display (EPD) shipments to 5 million units in 2009, up 417% from 950,000 in 2008. It is believe that this growth is a vote of confidence and an indication that consumers have embraced e-books. The research institute also pointed out that momentum from e-book popularity last year combined with new, larger-screen products hitting the market right now, means this trend will continue.
The Taiwan-based IT company, Ben Q Corp. has any eye-catching achievements in the popular field of e-reading. The company’s Vice Chairman Jerry Wang pointed out that with the popularity of iPad, the market for e-readers is likely to expand quickly. However, he also addressed the odd relationship between the iPad and various e-readers, “Mutual benefits exist between these two devices, but there is also competition. What I mean is: iPad undoubtedly helps to push the e-reading habit among readers, since people will gradually get used to holding a ‘pad’ to read, which benefits the sale and development of e-readers; but in the end, which device will readers choose to use when reading? iPad or e-readers? This is where there is much competition.”

In Wang’s opinion, e-readers will ultimately come out on top because they are designed to mimic the traditional book-reading experience. E-readers do not require a backlight or strong CPU and storage. They are slim and light with low power consumption. “The cost of e-readers will be similar to that of calculator, which cost US$1000 in 1970. But are now worth only US$10 each!”

Although it seems that everyone involving in the e-reading industry possesses is very optimistic about the future, Wang urges industry insiders not to forget readers’ expectations. “Content plus devices equals end-user reading experience, which is exactly what end-users care about. If the industry cooperates to offer them a good reading experience, then the market will grow faster than we expect.” That is also why BenQ does not feel that the business model for e-readers will copy that of MP3 players, which allows users to download free music from the Internet on their own. “Free content may not be very readable and thereby will not create a good reading experience for end-users.”

“Readers want the e-reading experience to be just like reading a book, nice and easy without the cold feeling of holding a machine. They also want flexibility in how they read. What they do not want is a mass of wires and cables around their ‘book’ or to have to charge the device all the time. They also want buying books to be a quick purchase process -- they are willing to spend only 20 seconds buying content from the Internet!” In other words, potential customers are looking for technology to make their lives easier and more convenient, rather than a burden and too much trouble. “Time should be spent reading, not operating the device. Our goal is to maintain consumers’ reading experience even where devices vary,” Wang says.

Wang also proudly announced that BenQ’s ambition is to successfully integrate hardware and content and develop its own distinctive business model for services.

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