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Target On Target With Exclusive e-readers

07/12/2011

Consumers have embraced the tablet market readily. Yet there’s still a very healthy demand for simple devices such as e-readers. The number of US adults who own ereaders has more than quadrupled since 2009 and is growing quickly, according to new estimates from eMarketer.

eMarketer estimates more than 20 million ereaders will be in consumer hands by the end of this year, reaching 8.7 percent of the US adult population, compared to just 12.7 million US adults with ereaders in 2010 and 4.4 million in 2009. By 2012, 12 percent of adults will have a Kindle, Sony Reader, NOOK or similar device.

This Sunday retailing giant Target jumps into the fray as the exclusive retailer of the first device that accesses the Google e-book library via Wi-Fi. Target’s six-month exclusivity is on the Story HD made by iriver.

The Story HD, at $139.99, will be at the mid-range price point between Amazon’s basic Kindle and Barnes & Nobel’s NOOK Color.

While there’s plenty of competition from Amazon and Barnes & Noble – neither have the retail footprint that Target has. Target will make e-readers mainstream…which is a good thing.

It’s likely there is a bigger strategy here. This is one of a series of moves Target will make to strengthen its position in electronics, mobile,  and technology. Last summer Target launched the Target Mobile centers, a partnership with RadioShack, as in-store wireless shopping stations that enable Target guests to purchase mobile phones and activate contracts from the nation’s top carriers.

Target usually has a pretty good read on its customer. What I see here is a smart move to connect with various consumer segments using technology as the door opener. And I also see the likelihood of additional purchases made once in the door. Smart stuff.

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