E-readers are way too expensive

Prices of e-readers will need to drop to at least $99 to become popular electronic devices, Gartner said in a report today.

And while 2009 is the year that the category really began to take off, 2010 will be the year when e-book readers become popular consumer electronic devices.

It’s forecasting e-reader “mania” for the 2010 holiday season.

Allen Weiner, research VP at Gartner said: “With the entry of new players, such as Barnes and Noble, into the e-reader market and an increase in models from Amazon and Sony, consumer gegan to have choices. Among the product differentiation points are support for E Ink’s electronic paper technology, support for further book formats, and the ability of some devices to allow consumers to purchase content wirelessly and to synchronise content across devices.”

Price will be a major factor in the popularity of e-readers. “At the moment it appears that $199 will be the lowest price for fully featured e-reading devices for the 2009 shopping season, but prices will need to drop closer to $99 to gain significant traction,” said a Gartner analyst.

There still remain hurdles before e-readers can really hit the mainstream. E-books, said Gartner, need a wider variety of retail channels and more publishers need to get savvy about the category.