E-book reader demand misses mark

JIJI

Shipments of e-book readers in the country in fiscal 2012 that ended in March jumped 42.4 percent from the previous year to 470,000 units, according to a private market research firm.

The growth came as U.S. online retail giant Amazon.com Inc. launched a Kindle reader compatible with the Japanese language and major domestic Internet shopping-mall operator Rakuten Inc. released its Kobo series.

Amazon shipped 180,000 units for a market share of 38.3 percent, followed by 155,000 units at Rakuten with a share of 33.0 percent and 120,000 units at Sony Corp. with 25.5 percent, MM Research Institute said Tuesday.

Still, e-book reader demand was weaker than expected due to competition with smartphones and tablet computers and the relatively high prices of e-books.

In addition, consumers have yet to feel e-book readers are necessary due to a lack of content, an MM official said.

Growth in e-book reader shipments is expected to slow to 10.6 percent in fiscal 2013 to total 520,000 units, MM said.