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Sales of e-readers to surge in 2010

CEA expects Christmas 2010 to be boom period for device

E-reader sales look set to double in 2010, predicts the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The CEA says shipments of the popular devices are expected to continue their momentum after doubling last year, and double again in 2012.

"Expect to see significant offerings in the e-reader category over the next few days," said Shawn DuBravac, director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association.

A number of new companies are expected to announce e-readers during CES this week, and some have already jumped the gun.

US telecom giant Sprint said they will team up with Skiff to provide newspapers, magazines and e-books over 3G networks for the Skiff Reader, an e-reader with an 11.5in flexible touchscreen created by Skiff and LG Display.

Another company, Spring Design, said its Alex eReader, which uses Google's Android OS, will have access to over one million books online through a deal with Google.

Other companies have announced new e-readers, too, including Interead's Coolreaders.

Glen Burchers, a marketing executive at Freescale Semiconductor, says his company is working with at least 20 different companies trying to bring e-readers to market this year.

Freescale makes the chips used in most e-readers, including Kindle, and will display some new e-readers at CES.

Burchers believes estimates for e-reader growth in 2009 were too conservative. Most market researchers targeted about three million units in global sales, he says, "but I'd say that number is 25 percent light, at least."

Freescale also expects unit shipments to double this year.

Part of the reason he's optimistic is because Freescale plans to launch new e-reader chips this year that will reduce the cost of the materials in an e-reader by about 25 percent.

Other companies are also dabbling in new screen technology that could result in a price breakthrough for e-readers, he said.

Price is a major consideration for consumers, according to Allen Weiner, a researcher at Gartner. The lowest price for a full-featured e-reader today is around £150, but prices will need to drop to about £75 to really grab consumers, he said.

He expects the Christmas season in 2010 to be the time e-readers boom in popularity due to the launch of new models.

Forrester Research estimates that Amazon accounted for 60 percent of e-readers sold in the US last year, followed by Sony with 35 percent and other makers, such as Foxit and IREX Technologies, taking the remainder.

See also: BenQ shows off first e-reader

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