Can Dedicated e-Readers Compete With the iPhone?

ClassicsOver at our sister site GigaOM, Om takes a look at the rising trend of e-book sales on the iPhone/iPod touch platform. According to a survey by San Francisco mobile tech analytics firm Flurry, one in five apps launched during the month of October on the App Store was a book. Book releases for the device are surpassing game sales now, and the gap is widening.

Flurry compares the trend in books to that in gaming, which saw Apple take a strong branding direction with the iPod touch (“The Funnest iPod Ever”) and saw Nintendo admitting that its sales were affected negatively by the new competitor. Amazon, according to the analytics firm, will face a similar market share impact for its Kindle device.

Om concludes that the future of the e-book market will depend on whether or not Apple ever releases its oft-rumored tablet device. While I agree that such a device would help further the demise of the dedicated reader, I’m not sure devices like the Kindle can stay competitive even without the release of a tablet.

With the DS and the PSP, the iPhone is a new entrant into a well-established field. The e-reader market is nascent, and still very much a niche consumer affair. The iPhone (and iPod touch), with its versatility, ease of use, and availability, could have a much more significant impact here than it did in gaming. Paul Sweeting at GigaOM Pro provides a great overview of the e-book market (subscription required for full report), if you’re new to the subject.

What do you think? Will readers like the Kindle and the Nook continue to have a place in the hearts and hands of consumers, or will multipurpose devices spell the end for what essentially remain boutique devices? I’m not even sure Amazon or Barnes & Noble have made up their minds, considering they both appear to be hedging their bets.

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