A timely e-reader reality check (the second thing, of course, is the anticipated Apple tablet)
Two things, however, have conspired to cloud this coming-out party. One is the sudden deluge of e-readers, which threatens to commoditise the hardware and make it difficult for the new hopefuls to stand out from the crowd. With only some 5m sold globally last year, the newcomers are fighting over a narrow niche.
With low barriers to entry, thanks to an Asian contract manufacturing base that can churn out new gadgets to order, it has been easy for newcomers to break in. Neil Jones, a British entrepreneur who is in Las Vegas to announce the latest models of his Cool-Er device, claims that although he decided to enter the market less than a year ago, sales through outlets such as hypermarkets in Europe and the QVC television shopping channel in the US have already made him the third-largest in the market, behind Amazon and Sony.