E-readers and tablet computers

Tablet computers and e-book readers are some of the hottest devices right now. 

Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad have both been hugely popular and sold millions in the US alone.  Tomorrow morning (May 28th) Apple will begin selling the iPad overseas in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.  With the success of the iPad and the Kindle, everyone from computer manufacturers to major booksellers is rushing to release a similar product.  Just recently Dell announced its own tablet Streak and Dublin firm Pandigital introduced the Novel.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, e-readers and tablets are set to become wildly popular and successful consumer devices.  The study also suggests that e-readers and tablets are not a niche product for early adopters, but could become the MP3 players of this decade.  “Grandmothers will soon be carrying them around.” While I’m pretty sure my grandma (or any grandmas in Japan) won’t be toting around an iPad or Kindle anytime soon, these devices are without a doubt more than just a quick fad or trend.

What about here in Japan?   The iPad is set to go on sale tomorrow and there will no doubt be hundreds of people lined up outside Apple stores around Tokyo.  Despite the hype among Apple fans and curious consumers, these new devices are also apparently causing Japanese publishing companies some anxiety.  Although Tokyo (and Japan) is often perceived as being high-tech and super modern, it is also a rather analog city filled with bookstores and newsstands (disappearing in the US) and where people read and purchase books, newspapers, magazines, etc. on a fairly regular basis.  It will be really interesting to see if these devices catch on and if or how they might be used by Japanese consumers.


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