Is the e-reader market decreasing?
After the recent success of continual sales success in the e-reader market, things may very well be on the turn. Recent data released by Taiwanese tech news site, Digitimes, reveals a significant downturn in global shipments from 9 to 2 million, quarter on quarter. Even accounting for seasonality, substitution from e-readers to more all encompassing and attractively priced tablet solutions will being playing is part in the sales slowdown. All this logically points towards the start of a downward sales trend. Let’s not forget Amazon’s own cuckoo in the nest as its Kindle Fire tablet continues to perform very strongly where unit sales are concerned. Hot of the press, expect a late October release for the 7 inch standard and HD version of the tablet in the UK. Likely to retail around £130 and £160 respectively, they will surely be a strong Christmas list contenders. If sales continue to fall it will be interesting to see how and if e-readers as a product evolve and go niche or simply slowburn their way to extinction. I for one can’t see Amazon missing a trick in looking at how it can transition its e-reader users into its tablet offering, as and when the time feels right.
Mobile round up
There’s lots of really hot news coming in from the mobi-sphere, not least about the imminent release of the iPhone 5, which now sports a 4 inch screen. Blackberry is also alleged to have leaked images/video footage of their forthcoming touchphone, Blackberry L. This will be an interesting one to watch given Blackberry has clearly stated that their strategy is to focus on the business/corporate market. Nokia’s newest addition, Lumia 920 (OS Windows 8) has also been getting some really good reviews recently, both in terms of looks and functionality, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for shipping dates on this one. As someone shortly coming out of a two year lock in, I’m really looking forward to deciding what to go for with my upgrade.
ComScore recently released its report, showing a 73% increase in Amazon search queries over the past year. Meanwhile, Amazon sales figures reveal a 29% increase in the second quarter of this year to $12.83billion (£8.1billion). All this is helping to cement Amazon’s position as a destination site for personal and gift purchases-and a one stop shop at that. In terms of search and associated commerciality, Amazon’s gain is Google’s loss. With 20% of its revenue being leveraged from paid advertising, this isn’t something Google will simply sit back and ignore. Coupled with Amazon’s recent success in making inroads into the emerging lower cost tablet market (Kindle Fire) the gloves are well and truly off as the big names slug it out for internet supremacy. But who will be the winner? What’s certain is that, we, the consumer, will benefit from this, not least from a pricing perspective.
As a committed Francophile, I’m always interested to see what’s happening the other side of the channel. So, when news recently reached me of an upcoming mobile service provider “Free” I simply had to investigate further. Here’s the deal. “Free” basically launched as a service provider in January 2012, offering a radical consumer proposition with unlimited talk, SMS and MMS messaging, tethering and unlimited data downloads, albeit with a slowdown in operating speed over 3GB and all for less than 20 Euros per month (or £16 to us Brits). But, Free, it turns out is actually no new kid on the block. It’s been around for 10 years, starting life as an ISP before transitioning into an integrated teleco provider. By leveraging good tech platform capability with low sales and marketing overheads, Free’s “innovative” approach has forced bigger brand incumbents to take note and to offer similar services in response. Nine months on from launch, Free now boasts a 5.4% market share (that’s defined by user not financial value). This may sound small, but taking into account the saturated markets is no mean feat in reality. The obvious future question is where Free goes from here, not least, given the price-matching responses of its larger rivals. Leveraging new service opportunities, whilst continuing to compete aggressively on cost and perceived value for money, will no doubt all feature in Free’s future plans. This is one company I’ll be watching with interest. If we have any French readers out there, let us know your thoughts on this and any experience you may have had on using “Free” first hand.