In recent years, companies, such as Google, Apple and Microsoft, have developed and unveiled new technologies many believed may struggle to find a niche in the consumer market. For Apple, […]

In recent years, companies, such as Google, Apple and Microsoft, have developed and unveiled new technologies many believed may struggle to find a niche in the consumer market. For Apple, the iPad appeared to be one of these products. However, the iPads utility as an e-reader is expected to have some interesting effects on the e-reader market. Technology-related searches for the week ending December 10 reflect consumers' growing interest in e-readers and other mobile devices.

Market research firm Gartner released analysis of the e-reader market earlier this week, which stated 6.6 million e-readers from various companies will be purchased by the end of 2010. However, the firm’s report also stated popular tablets, such as the iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, may negatively impact the sale of e-readers in the future. The limited feature scope of e-readers may result in prospective and current users opting for tablets, as they offer more than just a good read.

Still, Gartner believes consumers will still turn to the Kindle and other tablets consistently in 2011. Currently, Kindle continues to resonate as a major talking point for consumers and tech media outlets; a Google Realtime search for "Kindle" shows tech enthusiasts regularly mention the device .

Furthermore, Google announced the launch of its e-book store on Monday. In a blog post, Google Books product manager Abraham Murray reported there are more 3 million unique publications available on the website. Google Realtime reveals "Google Books" remained a popular topic of online chatter throughout the week.

As with most prominent e-book vendors, Google Books will be available to its customers on a variety of platforms, including laptops, smartphones, e-readers and tablets. This is an especially promising feature for e-reader manufacturers attempting to deflect sales from Amazon and for device developers hoping to cut into the iPad’s lead.

One such company looking to gain market share is Samsung, whose Galaxy Tab has been successful this year. Earlier in 2010, the product debuted to favorable results, and reports surfaced on Thursday that the newest iteration of the tablet will be released in April. It will feature a pull-out keyboard to complement its touchscreen typing capability.

Later on Thursday, news broke that mobile service provider Sprint will offer the Tab in 2011. The news became a major topic on Twitter late Thursday evening and into Friday. The Tab will be the first tablet device offered by Sprint. The company’s major competitors, such as AT&T and Verizon, both currently offered the iPad and other tablets, which has made it difficult for Sprint to compete.

AT&T had its own issues to worry about as Consumer Reports released a study on Monday, which stated the service provider was the worst in the United States. The report gathered information from 58,000 mobile customers and found that many AT&T users were less than satisfied with their service. This is especially interesting in light of a survey from last week, which found 30 percent of people looking to purchase a smartphone for the first time or upgrading their current device planned to invest in an iPhone which is – currently only available on AT&T.

This may allow Google to gain a portion of market share, as its Android-based smartphones are available on multiple networks. The company also announced the availability of Android 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread, on the Samsung Nexus S, which will be available on December 16 through T-Mobile. Searches for "Samsung Nexus S" were among the most popular throughout Monday based on Google Realtime results.

Google also perplexed tech media members on Wednesday when its vice president of engineering, Andy Rubin, tweeted, “There are over 300,000 Android phones activated each day.” Many believed Android claimed more than 1.5 million new activations every week, which would place its daily average around 214,000.

While many have questioned the validity of Rubin’s claim, there is no doubt that the company’s success in 2010 – and the correlating online buzz – will continue in the final few weeks of the year. Next week, early numbers of the Nexus S may provide the ultimate exclamation point on 2010 for the company once known solely as a search engine giant.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.