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As Borders Australia today launches an e-book service and a low-price e-reader device – the Kobo, expected to sell for A$199 – a US-based global survey has shown that sales of both e-readers and handheld tablets like Apple’s iPad are likely to boom as early hefty prices start coming down.

As Borders Australia today launches an e-book service and a low-price e-reader device – the Kobo, expected to sell for A$199 – a US-based global survey has shown that sales of both e-readers and handheld tablets like Apple’s iPad are likely to boom as early hefty prices start coming down.
“I think we’re already at the starting point of mass adoption,” said John Rose of the Boston Consulting Group, which conducted the survey of nearly 13,000 consumers in 14 countries.
“The survey suggests that e-readers and tablets are not a niche product for early adopters, but could become the MP3 players of this decade,” Rose said separately in a press release. “Grandmothers will soon be carrying them around.”
Apple has sold one million iPads in the tablet’s first month on sale in the US. But the survey stressed that prices will have to drop before e-readers and tablets become established consumer products alongside television sets, personal computers and mobile phones.
 

Fifty-one percent of consumers surveyed who were familiar with e-readers or tablet computers said they planned to purchase one within a year and 73 percent said they planned to buy one within three years. Most said they were prepared to pay between US$100 and $150 for a single-usage device like the Kindle or $130-200 for a multi-purpose device like the iPad.

Separately, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps has estimated e-readers will have to get under US$99 to reach the mainstream market.
Borders Australia – now part of the Australian RedGroup Retail group – is expected to launch the Kobo e-reader at $199 today, along with its e-book service. The Kobo has a 6-inch screen and uses similar E-Ink mono display technology as Amazon.com’s Kindle reader.
But, unlike the Kindle or Apple’s iPad, it lacks Wi-Fi or 3G connections to download e-books directly. Titles must be downloaded first to a PC or Mac and transferred to the reader via a USB cable. 
Borders’ e-books will also be able to be downloaded to a number of smartphones including the iPhone and some Blackberry models.
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