Tablet computers such as the Apple iPad and Samsung's new Galaxy Tab could soon help to kill off dedicated e-book readers such as Amazon's Kindle.
Market research firm Informa Telecoms & Media predicts that sales of multifunctional devices such as tablets, which the analyst terms 'smartbooks', are set to rise from 3.65 million in 2010 to 50 million in 2014 - reaching more than 50 per cent of all embedded devices.
"There has been a resurgence of smartbooks particularly in the tablet form, fuelled by the launch of the iPad, and we are seeing the same kind of proliferation and interest in tablets now that we saw two years ago for e-readers," says David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa.
"E-readers are under threat from a number of sources. Electronic book content is now available on most multifunctional devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers, netbooks and other portable consumer electronic devices.
"While the iPad may not be as ideally suited to reading as a dedicated e-reader, many users are finding that it works well enough as a book reader, in addition to its many other functions," McQueen added.
Informa expects sales of dedicated e-readers to peak in 2013, before succumbing to competition from multifunctional devices.
The analyst also sees distribution by network operators as key to the successful growth of the smartbook market.
Informa said: "If smartbooks were simply distributed in the same fashion as netbooks are today, some major opportunities would be missed - opportunities to strengthen operators' mobile broadband proposition, to validate smartbooks as a genuinely new product category and of course to promote smartbooks' take-up."