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This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.
Electronics were among the most requested gifts of the twenty-eleven Christmas holiday season in the United States. Jim Barry from the Consumer Electronics Association says tablet computers were the most popular electronic gift. Laptop computers were second. Jim Barry says the iPad continued to lead the way in the tablet market. Apple released its iPad 2 in March. The company is expected to release the iPad 3 in twenty-twelve. "Tablet computers are the top of the list of what folks said they were going to buy this year. And probably north of eighty percent of the tablets being sold up until now have been Apple iPads."
But he says the tablet market is starting to change. There are now more choices and less costly tablets available. These include the new Kindle Fire from Amazon.com. Jim Barry says e-readers were number three on his group's survey of holiday gift wishes, and that came as a surprise to more than a few people. "Some folks thought that the popularity and success of the tablet computer would mean sales of e-book readers would go down. Well, that hasn't happened. Sales of e-book readers have more than doubled this year. We're buying lots more. The leaders there continue to be the Kindle from Amazon and the Nook from Barnes and Noble, along with the e-reader from Sony." Amazon released its Kindle Fire just in time for Christmas. The new Kindle is a touchscreen tablet. Unlike the earlier e-reader, this one is in color and lets users explore the Web. The Kindle Fire sells for one hundred ninety-nine dollars. This is several hundred dollars less than the iPad, but about the same as people paid for the Kindle 3G Wireless in twenty-ten. So the big question on a lot of people's minds in twenty-eleven was whether or not to wait for the price to come down. As Jim Barry put it:
"This is the challenge of the early adopter. You know, one of the great things about consumer electronics is that the prices get lower as the stuff gets better. And that's not true of automobiles or furniture or houses, and so forth. So as the prices get lower, if you bought earlier you may feel a little bit of that 'well, I wish I had waited.'" He says falling prices are one of the reasons why consumer electronics do relatively well, even in a difficult economy.