It is very rare that you will ever see someone with a first generation Apple iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy. Smartphones and tablets normally have a short upgrade cycle and through incentives with mobile carriers, it is fairly easy to get a new device every few years. E-Readers rarely offer any new technical innovations that compel users to upgrade to the latest and greatest. What are the vast majority of e-reader owners looking for when they do consider an upgrade and what would make them drop everything and buy something right away? We have new data that answers these very questions.
In January we asked 1,381 people what would make them upgrade their e-reader. These people are mostly hardcore users that have owned many digital readers in the past and live in a myriad of countries, such as Canada, US, UK and most of continental Europe.
527 people, which represented 38% of the vote said that they would buy a new e-reader if a major brand released something that was bigger than six inches.
The vast majority of e-readers currently on the market by companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble are six inches in size. Smaller devices are cheaper to make and tend to be more pocket friendly. Amazon did experiment with the DX, which was a 9.7 inch e-reader, but they released it at a time when touchscreen devices were not the norm and customers failed to buy it in droves. The only mainstream company to buck the six inch trend was Kobo, with their 6.7 Aura HD and H20 e-reader.
191 people, which represented 14% of the vote said they were looking for a color e-reader. There have been few color readers developed over the years and the ones who have, have been overpriced and had terrible specs. The Pocketbook Color Lux and Ectaco Jetbook color are two of the most notable examples. E-Ink Triton 2 is the panel of choice for color e-readers, but the technology is almost four years old and tremendously outdated. The one glimmer of hope is Amazon, who have been hiring executives at a new Chinese plant to manufacture Liquavista color panels, which are ideal for e-readers.
135 people said that they wanted a waterproof e-reader, 125 said they wanted an e-reader that employed the new IMX.7 dual core processor, 119 want an even higher resolution display, 116 want a major brand to let users install their own Android apps and 104 want audio functionality to listen to audiobooks and music.
What surprised me most about this new data report was how enamored people are with large screen displays. Apparently there is a large segment of users that really want a company like Amazon, B&N, or Kobo to give them a larger screen display to read manga, textbooks, maps, PDF documents and e-books.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.